Saturday, October 19, 2019

Swami Kriyananda : Testament to Authenticity

When you have made the acquaintance of a saint (a rare thing for most people), or even have studied the lives of many saints, you find that each one is simply him or her self. Some saints are rather eccentric, too, but in all cases, especially in real life (versus the one-dimensional biographies that are too often written), saints are creative, energetic, imaginative, and, in a divine way, unpredictable.

Here at Ananda in the Seattle area, we are studying the recently published book by Asha Nayaswami: "Swami Kriyananda: Lightbearer - The Life and Legacy of a Disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda.



It is an extraordinary account of the life of an extraordinary man. It is a study in discipleship in our lifetimes. It is difficult to write a post-mortem account of Spirit "dwelling amongst us" without whitewashing a human being into an icon. Fortunately, Asha Nayaswami has done an excellent job at sharing the fully human being who was called Swami Kriyananda.

In the book, which I highly recommend to everyone, not just Ananda members, Swamiji's life is shown as it was lived: transparently! In the countless gatherings ("satsangs") and in numerous letters to members, friends, and even to a few self-appointed adversaries, he was self-honest, fair to all, courageous, and insightful but never bombastic or emotional. He clung to and affirmed his soul's living reality and potential no matter what others would think of him or what others accused him of. Even if he ever disappointed himself, he rose to affirm ultimate soul victory. He also respected the right of others to be themselves, even if at his expense, and viewed each from their highest potential regardless of their current behavior or attitude.

One of the earliest statements I heard him make in a talk he gave long ago (late 1970s?) was to the effect that saints come to demolish the false notions devotees have of what it means to be spiritual. For those who are sincere but who also struggle with living the spiritual life, this was reassuring and supportive.

And he lived his life in that authentic way. For each of us, our path, our tests and victories, are unique. The delusions of Maya are innumerable but all too recognizable (at least by others!). There are, moreover, some delusions that are bigger or more deeply embedded than others.

Swamiji's lifestyle of complete openness and transparency are vividly reported in Asha's book and serve not just as the obvious and general example of discipleship but the practical and concomitant example of living authentically as a human being (on the way to becoming fully human). The two cannot be separated.

Like a great ship, whether moving its way through a storm or becalmed on a glassy sea, the polestar of Swamiji's soul-ship was Self-realization. Swamiji showed the balance between self-acceptance and Self-acceptance on a larger than life public "stage." This he did notwithstanding numerous hurdles, opposition, and challenges. That his "saving grace" flowed from his attunement to his guru (Yogananda) is, of course, the basis for his life and a core message of his life story.

While no book can ever substitute for the actual experience of another person, especially a saintly one, Asha's book is a masterpiece not just for the future of Ananda, or future disciples of Yogananda, but for anyone seeking to view authentic spirituality.

To define "authentic spirituality" is, by definition, impossible. To be "spiritual" means to live by grace; to live with faith; to seek divine attunement. By "definition," therefore, there can be NO yardstick of what, outwardly, constitutes "authentic"! In fact, the term "spiritual authenticity" is redundant for no authenticity can exist except for that which proceeds from soul guidance. Those who claim authenticity on the mere basis of expressing subconscious and ego impulses betray the very concept of authenticity.

Swamiji could play the video game, "Pong," on an Apple II Plus; he could arm or leg wrestle the "guys" or play "shoulder wars" in the pool; all in a competitive good spirit with laughter all 'round.

But he could also see your higher potential and nurture your soul, bringing tears of gratitude to your eyes. He could magnetize a network of eight or nine intentional communities around the world, write music and books and give lectures in many languages.

But these above are only outward facts. By "authentic" I will simply say that his transparency opened him up to be seen even if all too often the result was that he would be judged by the world around him. There's no point in recalling stories from the book: you should get the book and read it. His transparency challenged some whose definition of spirituality was rigid and one-dimensional. His life was a continuous effort at divine attunement and as it poured through him he answered its summons regardless of personal convenience or outward orthodoxy. (Nonetheless, he was strictly orthodox when it came to techniques taught by Yogananda and the counsel he received from his guru.)

It didn't matter if the action he took or the statement he made turned out to be, or seem to be, in error. He accepted that too, though he seemed to accept all things gratefully as part of the hidden divine hand. In a deeper sense, there were no mistakes. (This was not a denial on his part; rather, it was an affirmation of the deepest truth of the soul.)

Some devotees are not even honest with their own consciences as if one could hide one's most hidden secrets from God. Never mind those whose conscience yields easily to convenience or desire. Swamiji's example, therefore, is nothing less than extraordinary.

In addition, to his example of discipleship and the heroic service he rendered his guru to the world, and in addition to the deep gratitude I and countless others feel for his friendship, I honor the example of his courage, his inner Self-sufficiency, his transparency, and the resulting authenticity of his being fully human. Accepting that the soul is nothing less than authentic, too many spiritual seekers cannot see the forest of Spirit through the trees of religious convention.

The "romance of religion" (as Yogananda called it) is viewed by too many to be in the robes and rituals and outward piety common to all faiths. To those attracted to the trappings of religion, Yogananda counseled "Make your heart a hermitage, and your robe, your love for God."

There is a story from India of the husband of a famous woman bhakti, Mirabai. For years she had prayed for her husband's religious conversion, thinking him to be an agnostic for lack of outward religiosity. But one night, when he cried out in his sleep to God, she woke him to say that she now knew his secret. He pleaded with her to not to say it but when she did, he sat upright in meditation and left his body (for he had vowed to do so if ever his love for God were discovered).

Extreme, to be sure. But do not "judge the book (of the soul) by its cover." Some saints appear even a bit grumpy or as martinets but they have their reasons to do so. Look into their eyes for they will twinkle like stars with inner joy. Note further how others around them are spiritually transformed and uplifted.

The deeper your love for God and the stronger your attunement with the Divine Will, the safer you will be in your spontaneous and intuitive expression of the soul's innate wisdom, joy, peace or love. Ultimately there can be no difference. For Swamiji's courageous example of expressing inspiration, I am deeply grateful.

Jai Guru! Jai Swamiji!

Swami Hrimananda



Friday, October 11, 2019

"Food of the Future" by Swami Yogananda


Paramhansa Yogananda wrote several mail-order courses. One of them he called ADVANCED SUPER COSMIC SCIENCE COURSE (1934). I've shared below from:

Lesson 1 - Healing by Spiritual Affirmation and by Astral Food


I've excerpted the segment on astral food as follows:

Food in the future -- Energy.


            The future food of the world will all come by receiving different rays from Cosmic Energy, Cosmic Rays, electrons, atoms, and air, drawn through different openings of the body. [Yogananda's guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar revealed that our planet is in an upward arc of increasing awareness based on certain planetary and astronomical phenomenon. He predicted that our current age, called Dwapara (dwa=second), would see rapid advances of knowledge as to the existence and use of subtle energy and atomic forces or rays.]

From Cosmic Energy.


            1. If one constantly keeps his mind concentrated on the point between the eyebrows (at the Christ Center) and sees there the Spiritual Eye and commands it to recharge the body with strength, it will do so. By doing this, people would cease growing old. [Comment: the "spiritual eye" referred to here is a specific image that can be seen by anyone regardless of belief or religion. Most readers of this blog will not require a description of the three concentric circles of gold, blue and a white, five-pointed star. More importantly and richly rewarding is the effort to maintain an awareness of the point between the eyebrows during waking hours, including meditation. By so doing, one's intuitive awareness both in general but also of subtle energy steadily increases. Practicing recharging the body at will as described above comes more easily when our awareness of this point in the body becomes stronger.]

            2. Drawing energy from the cerebrum and medulla by connecting the tip of the big tongue with the little tongue (uvula). [Comment: this is a preliminary stage of the advanced and powerful technique known as kechari mudra. See Swami Kriyananda's classic text, "Art and Science of Raja Yoga," Step 13, Yoga Postures, for an explanation.]

From the Sun.


            3. Energy may be drawn from the sun by covering the whole body with a piece of thick blue silk or a blanket and keeping the medulla exposed with the sun shining there, on the back of the head. Concentrate on the back of the head and feel it getting warmer and warmer. Feel the energy being stored in the brain and distributed through the body. [Yogananda elsewhere describes the valuable technique known as "Sun-Gazing." In the first or final minutes of sunrise or sunset it consists of gazing into the sun in a very specific manner at a time when it is safe to do so.]

            4. Take a sunbath and concentrate deeply upon the sun-bathed surface of the body, and drink the sunshine in through every pore of the body. Concentration on the sun rays gives one hundred times greater results than taking a sunbath absentmindedly. [Comment: in Yogananda's day concern for cancer from sun-bathing was more or less unknown. In some of his other lessons, he was careful to suggest as few as ten minutes exposure. Each person should determine what is best for themself.]

From Electrons.


            In order to receive electronic energy from the ether, expel the breath, remain calm while sitting in the erect posture, and feel the electronic energy surrounding your body and entering through your body cells, or receive energy through your fingers while your hands are lifted over your head.

From Oxygen.


            Sit upright on a chair. Close your eyes. Expel the breath quickly, but start inhaling very slowly through nostrils, thinking that the air is filling your brain, lungs, heart, spine, stomach, abdomen, thighs, legs, arms, and so forth. You can also inhale quickly and fill the whole body with the atomic power in the oxygen. [In his now-famous "Energization Exercises," Yogananda combined a quick "double" inhalation (short-long) with tensing the entire body, vibrating the entire body, then exhale through the mouth (and nose) with a double exhalation. "Tense with will; relax and feel" he instructed.]

[Below is an affirmation which Yogananda gave as part of this lesson]

"I am Thy son; I am wise.
Thou art happy; I am Thy child, therefore I am a happy child.
Father, Thou hast everthing. I am Thy child; I have everything.
Thou art ever-well; I am well, I am well.
We are Thy children; I wish all to be happy.
Thou art power; I am power."

I hope you will profit from this "food for thought" by Paramhansa Yogananda!

Swami Hrimananda




Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Is the Bliss of Meditation for Real? "No-Bliss-Oblige?"

I began my life of meditation from the orientation of snippets of Buddhism. I say "snippets" because whatever I thought I learned was most likely inaccurate or at least spiritually untested. 

But when in my search I also encountered the Yoga-Vedanta-Sankhya traditions, I was suspicious because the references to bliss or divine joy seemed to me to smack of duality. 

In fact, just the other day, after a talk I gave at a Sunday Service at a Unity church, someone politely cornered me to question my references to bliss and the joy of the soul. This couple challenged me, in a friendly sporting way, relying as they did on teachings from a more Buddhist perspective. They described the ultimate state of the soul as beyond states of joy or bliss.

I've heard it said that in some Buddhist teachings bliss is said to be but a stage on the journey to enlightenment but not the final state of consciousness.

The very language we use when we use the word "bliss" or "joy" naturally seems to suggest a dual state in which someone, an "I" is feeling some feeling called blissful. Hence, by the very definition of non-duality, the very self-awareness of such a feeling cannot be the final state of being. Or so the logic goes.

Paramhansa Yogananda described eight aspects of higher consciousness, one of which is joy and another, love. Swami Kriyananda would comment occasionally in describing love as, in some subtle way, almost a lower state than joy (or bliss) for the very same, or nearly same reason: love suggests a relationship: I-Thou. I don't think he meant this literally because even I can feel "loving" without the necessity of a person or a thing being the object towards which my love is directed or from which my feeling of love is stimulated. Feeling "loving" can arise from within.

Swami Kriyananda did quote Yogananda as saying joy is a safer aspect of the soul's nature to emulate or strive to express than love because humans all too easily "fall in love" with another person (or thing).

Then there is the testimony of saints that say that immediately prior to their enlightenment comes the "dark night of the soul" or the tempter (Satan, maya, etc.) during which the inner light (another of the eight aspects) vanishes and only darkness remains. 

There are saints, including Lahiri Mahasaya, who make references to high states of consciousness as places of dark-less light, light-less dark and so on. 

Finally, all great mystics admit, one way or another, that the final state of being is beyond name, form or description (even if they try by poetry or imagery to convey).

And on a more mundane but at least a relatively more accessible level of human experience, the testimony of deeply sincere meditators over decades of living and practice demonstrates that while they may be generally described as joyful persons, they do not laugh off pain and suffering, whether their own or that of others. 

When Swami Kriyananda first wrote the ceremony Festival of Light (used on Sundays at Ananda churches especially in America), he had a sentence that read: And whereas suffering and sorrow, in the past, were the coin of man’s redemption, for us now the payment has been exchanged for joy.

A few years later he edited the end of that sentence to read ...."has been exchanged for calm acceptance and joy."

As with the word "love" connotes merely human love, so the term "joy" cannot be extricated from the our response to, say, winning the lottery. Thus the term "bliss" is often used to elevate the implied meaning of divine joy to something more than merely egoic or of the conscious mind.

Partly then we have an issue of language. And partly the question remains whether or not the dissolution of the separate ego-self results in any awareness that includes a "feeling" experience such as joy.

Well, let's face it: the testimony of the masters, the saviors, the avatars, gurus, and saintly souls tells us that what they have found or become is worth every bit of the effort taken to re-discover it. I think that qualifies to be called "bliss?" 

Paramhansa Yogananda said "Yes." The Adi Shankaracharya said "Yes." He described the non-dual state with the term Sat-chit-ananda. Loosely translated by Yogananda as "ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new joy." It might be stretched to say it is a state of immortality, omniscience, and bliss. The term describes the nature of God, the state of samadhi, and the nature of the soul.

Yet it is also true and discoverable by any serious devotee and meditator, that there ARE states of consciousness, in prayer and meditation, wherein feeling of any kind is held in abeyance; feeling is latent like an undercurrent, just behind one's steadfast awareness. It cannot be said to be no-thing, nor can it be said to be any-thing. It simply IS. 

In his autobiography, Yogananda was challenged by a saint when asked: "You go often into the silence, but have you developed anubhava? Don't mistake the path for the goal. Yogananda commented that the saint was reminding him to love God more than meditation. Perfect stillness (awareness without a manifested feeling of any kind), then, is not, itself the goal. It is not a state of Oneness beyond one's personal consciousness.

Then there are other experiences wherein one is absorbed in a feeling state such as peace, calmness, joy, love or subsumed in the power of subtle sound or inner light, or transported in a flash of instantaneous perceptive images or insights (similar to what is described as the life review at death or near-death). 

Such experiences can enter one's consciousness as if about to dissolve one's separateness; or, one's little self expands into the experience such that the self no longer matters and barely exists. Time begins to slow to a standstill.

Put another way: Infinity embraces all! As Ananda-moyi-ma described God: “It (the Spirit) is, and It isn’t, and neither is It, nor is It not.”

A saint can manifest dryness or joy, asceticism and renunciation, or enthusiastic engagement, creativity, compassion and joy. It is and it isn't!

The ray of divine vibration which descended through Paramhansa Yogananda and the lineage which preceded him is, however, characterized by joy!  But that joy, like devotion, like the higher inner states of meditation, can nonetheless be subtle or hidden from outward view in a particular devotee. Look at the eyes, however: do they glow with joy? Infinity? Light? Calmness?  

It is not surprising that in our efforts to share the teachings of Yogananda we frequently reference or express joy as an overarching characteristic. Yet power, too, is an aspect of God. Yogananda could be very powerful at times. 

Great saints do differ in what qualities are made manifest in their lives and thus in the lives of disciples who are in tune with them. Yet as Swami Sri Yukteswar, the guru of Paramhansa Yogananda, was a Gyanavatar, he didn't "convert" Yogananda from being a bhakti, a Prem-avatar (of love and joy).

Yogananda had a life such that he was at ease in a wide variety of situations and seeming "moods." He was, in a sense, very "human." Indeed, fully human. 

Unlike aspiring saints who may have to hold back or to express austerity as part of their journey to enlightenment, Yogananda was born free, a purna avatar. It's not that he flaunted proper behavior, ethics, and the do's and don'ts of life (like some aspiring saints have done to show their avowed non-attachment to sense indulgences or unethical acts). 

Rather, he was freely expressive. His behavior was natural and unpretentious. These qualities, too, can be seen in his disciples. Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda, was a friend to all; unpretentious and natural in his actions according to circumstances.

Finally, we must simply admit that terms like "bliss" or "joy" only really have meaning in their being manifested in observable human consciousness and actions. 

By contrast, in an uplifted state of consciousness, in a state of samadhi, applying the adjectives of "bliss" or "joy" simply no longer apply except perhaps afterwards in an effort to share some aspect of what the soul experienced. 

It is and it yet it isn't. We can say samadhi is blissful and yet we must also say samadhi isn't limited by anything, including bliss. It simply IS. When awareness and feeling merge in pure consciousness, you cannot extract the one from the other. But neither would you trade it for any dual state of consciousness.

The "beamers of bliss" are right and the "no-bliss-obligers" are right. My lifelong mantra and response to life's ups and downs remains intact: BOTH-AND.

Joy or no-joy, I remain unshakeably the same, your own Self,

Swami Hriman-non-Da! 


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Ode to Forrest, Forrest Gump!

The movie, "Forrest Gump," is based on the 1986 novel by Winston Groom and was made into a movie in 1994 starring Tom Hanks. Quite apart from the scenes of a historic period in America (the 1960's, the Vietnam War and the presidency of Richard M. Nixon), the movie's enduring charm stems from the inspiring, timeless, and yet timely messages bottled within the labyrinth of its plot.

"Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're gonna get." This is perhaps the most popular quote for which Forrest Gump is famous. It is a lesson he learned from his "momma." In this simple metaphor of a box of chocolates, we are reminded to take life as it comes, with non-attachment and even-minded cheerfulness. Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the now-famous classic, "Autobiography of a Yogi") put it this way: "What comes of itself, let it come. All circumstances are neutral, he went on to say, but appear positive or negative according to the attitude of the mind. I'm sure Forrest (if he were to think about it but probably wouldn't bother) would agree with Yogananda's statement that there are "no obstacles; only opportunities" in life.

In the movie, Forrest carries with him that box of chocolates. It's as if, with each new episode, he reaches into the box with his eyes closed to select another piece of chocolate. This box of chocolates is, metaphorically speaking, the source of Forrest's ability to take life as it comes to him. It is detachment worthy of a great yogi!

With this "yogic siddhi" of non-attachment (psycho-physiological power) comes to Forrest additional qualities such as acceptance: self-acceptance and acceptance of others and of life as it flows by him. He is a witness to history even as yogis are a witness to their thoughts and the flow of life's energy within themselves and all around. But he is also a willing participant in history, doing what life calls him to do in each moment. He's an unwitting football star when that is needed; an unselfconscious hero in battle; a friend in need and even when rejected.

This power of acceptance is vibrantly clear in his relationships: with his love, Jenny; with his war-friend, Bubba; and with Lt. Dan. In each case, he takes his friends as they are and himself at face value: as his own sincere and well-meaning Self.

With Jenny, he feels her childhood pain from abuse and wants only to protect her. He wants nothing from her, though everyone else seems to. His love is selfless and without condition.

With Bubba, neither race nor social status means a thing to Forrest. He risks his own life in the Vietnam War to rescue his friend Bubba. And when that fails, he immortalizes Bubba by buying a boat to do shrimp fishing (which was Bubba's hope and dream when he returned home). This lead to his establishing the financially successful Bubba-Gump Company and sharing the profits with Bubba's impoverished family!

With Lt. Dan whom he also saves from certain death in the same war, he receives nothing but anger, reproach, and verbal abuse. Yet, later, when Forrest is shrimp fishing, Lt. Dan suddenly appears on the scene. Forrest immediately accepts and embraces his friend who while "shrimping" together with the ever-content Forrest is at last healed of his grief, resentment, and anger at life's cruelty.

While I surely am not the first person to express these responses to the otherwise simple, if popular, movie, Forrest Gump, it struck me anew the other day to write these words.

I like to imagine (in jest) that Forrest single-handedly created behavioural psychology when he responds to being called "stupid" saying: "Stupid is as stupid does!" (One's consciousness is manifested by one's actions!)

Simplicity; purity of heart; willingness and practicality in action; acceptance; loyalty to friends and purpose; spontaneity (as when he suddenly is prompted from within to begin running: running back and forth across America with no thought of "tomorrow" or how he would survive, eat, or be sheltered).

"O Father, Lord of Heaven, you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes." (Matt 11:25) Forrest Gump's life revealed the secrets of happiness. It would not have fit the movie to have introduced a religious theme because, for the message the movie conveys, it is complete. Forrest could have easily been re-cast into a saint but then the movie would never have achieved any recognition or popularity.

Forrest Gump symbolizes everything our society is not: innocence. It's wonderful that moviegoers enjoyed an evening's entertainment, but I think Forrest Gump has much more to say to us. Each generation needs a movie like Forrest, Forrest Gump. Don't you think?

"Life is like a box of chocolates" whose sweetness is found in innocence and acceptance.

Joy to you!

Swami Hrimananda!


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Can God Be Known?


How to Know God!

The word “God” may only be three letters but this little Word carries a lot of weight in emotional and intellectual baggage. Scoffers and materialists naturally tend to say, “There’s no proof? Where is He? Searching for God, are you? I didn’t know He was lost?”

For many years I hesitated to use the “G” word for all of the confusion and objections inherent in its use. “Who could speak of God who doesn’t know Him,” I would ask myself.

Gravity cannot be seen; radio waves cannot be seen; the solar wind cannot be seen. Yet, we “know” they exist by observation and measurement of their effects. 

We can test their existence and assess their attributes.
Why should God be any different? Gravity doesn’t need our approval or recognition to exist. Why should God be pining away for our belief in Him? In order to explore deep space, the intricacies of higher mathematics and algorithms, split the atom, search for the Higgs Boson particle (the “God” particle), search for the cure for cancer, a person needs a highly specialized education, skills and equipment and must make intense efforts to be qualified even to try. 

It shouldn’t surprise us, therefore, if making direct contact with the Creator of this vast universe is going to take a bit of effort, education, skill, and dedication! God doesn’t owe us anything, does He? After all, humanity’s interest in Him is rather lacklustre, wouldn’t you agree?

To know God you have to have refined the most delicate and sensitive instrument in existence: your consciousness! Just as only trained personnel can fly a commercial airliner or operate a chemical plant or work on a nuclear reactor, so too those who know God are those who have put in the effort and acquired the skill and are “eligible.” Those who reach the “top” are called saints: scientists of the soul and cosmos.

Nonetheless, you might object and point out that unlike flying a jet airplane or doing brain surgery, God is (or is supposed to be) for everyone! But given “who” and “what” God is, he’s not going to be like the actor George Burns at the grocery store (who played the part of God in several movies). By any imagined or real definition of God you’re talking about a “pretty big guy!” Just as you’re not going to be able to fly to Washington, D.C. and walk into the president’s office to have a chat over a cup of coffee, God is kinda BIG; POWERFUL; AWESOME; INDESCRIBABLE; INFINITE; even if also charming, loving, and compassionate once you get on a “first-name basis.”

As gravity is evidenced by a falling apple, so God is evidenced by the magnitude, complexity, intelligence, beauty and power of the universe. As love can trump hate, and nature rises above destruction, and life renews in spite of death, so God’s presence can be intuited as the invisible and unifying Force of love and life behind all creation.

The joy of having skills, achieving success, experiencing human love, the companionship of pets, the touch of sunlight, breezes, sand and ocean and so much in life…..even life’s tragedies, perhaps especially life’s tragedies..... touch the human heart and bestow a sense of connection to a greater reality.

But, nonetheless, we have to admit that all of these attributes or signs are indirect: hints of cosmic Joy, intimations of the play of an invisible Hand.

But there are those who aver, indeed, insist that God CAN be experienced directly. In the gospel of St. John, he quotes Jesus saying: “But a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him.” God is a Spirit and direct contact with God must be made by and in Spirit. What is “spirit?” God is Consciousness: infinite, immanent, and pure and without condition; beyond or underlying restless thoughts, heaving emotions and ceaseless activity. “Be still and know that I AM God.” (Psalm 46:10)

The yoga of meditation has become accessible worldwide because, as Paramhansa Yogananda put it, “The time for knowing God has come.” In his famous life story, "Autobiography of a Yogi,” Yogananda’s guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar explains to Yogananda: “After the mind has been cleared by yoga of sensory obstacles (restlessness), meditation furnishes a twofold proof of God. Ever-new joy is evidence of His existence, convincing to our very atoms. Also, in meditation one finds His instant guidance, His adequate response to every difficulty.” [Chapter 14 – Experience in Cosmic Consciousness]

“Faith is evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is acceptance, surrender and cooperation with the hidden but tangibly felt joy and presence of God moving through and informing one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. Our bodies and ego are but vessels, containers, and transformers of God’s infinite power being brought to a practical focus here and now in the present moment and context. Like an electrical transformer that steps the voltage down to where it won’t damage appliances in our home, we are literally transformers of grace……..IF we choose to be.

We receive the gift of life in our bodies and minds but it is up to us to look behind the appearance of our own separate existence for the source of life. We have the opportunity to realize that it is a gift. Life isn’t ours; we receive it. From that awareness, we can choose to attune ourselves to that power, to that grace, to that divine life. By consciously inviting God’s grace into our lives to be used according to “Thy will (not my will),” the endless demands of the little ego are gradually dissolved like salt crystals in water. The result is increasing calm inner joy and strength.

Yes, we can know God. But the choice is ours. God says, “I will wait.” God has and IS all things but awaits our interest, our search, and, ultimately, our love. The skills to conduct the search can be learned; the knowledge is available. Meditation is the key to the search, but so also is purity of heart. It is the heart that must open, like a lotus, to the “truth that shall make us free.”

Be happy; be free!

Swami Hrimananda



Saturday, September 7, 2019

Is Ego Good or Bad?


We say someone has a “big ego” and we know that this is not a good thing. Yet, we probably also know that some of those who have accomplished great things in the world could be described as having “a big ego” or at least a “big aura,” and maybe more of the former than the latter.

Some years ago there was a lot of talk about building self-esteem in children. Indeed, much of the training and education of a child is directed towards learning skills and gaining self-confidence. Now that I am a grandparent I watch with some interest and a newfound nonattachment to how much effort adults expend eliciting a child’s likes or dislikes. It seems instinctual to help a child to develop their ego from its amorphous and helpless state at birth to that of a strong, balanced, intelligent, healthy adult.

Among the traits of the ego that are helpful and necessary is taking responsibility for one’s life, developing will power, not blaming others, learning to forgive, learning to accept what can’t be changed: just to name a few. Among the valuable traits that reflect both a strong ego and one that is not excessively self-involved are kindness, thinking of the needs and realities of others, unselfishness, generosity, and creative solution-seeking: in short, the Golden Rule!

Is that all there is, then, to this ego-thing? Pet dogs and kiss babies, so to speak? Be good and you’ll surely go to heaven? If you are reading this you already know that’s not where this conversation is going!

The Vedantic path and teachings of the ages and sages offer to us a vision of reality that avers that the ultimate creator and purpose of the creation is to pierce the veil of illusion of our separateness and reunite with the only reality that is permanent, beyond suffering, and permanently satisfying: God (or Bliss or whatever name you prefer).

So on the ego-thing, we have some who say the ultimate state of existence (usually called heaven) is that we keep our egos and we rest happily forever praising the Lord, strumming harps, engaging in angel-like good deeds, or enjoying the everlasting pleasures of heaven.

Others say, “No way!”  We “kill” the illusion of a separate self (ego) and disappear into the great Void.

Photo by Patricia DeAnguera
 And, they say further, that on the threshold of this dissolution we experience momentarily the bliss of release from suffering caused by egoic consciousness but then we vanish without a trace into the No-thing-ness out of which all things have come. Hmmmm: a kind of spiritual suicide wish? I’ll take rain check, thank you.

Another version of egoic dissolution says that the Void is actually not empty but full: full of bliss! Bliss, in other words, is not temporary or born of the duality of separateness. Instead, the very nature of God (the ultimate state or reality) is Sat-chit-anandam: ever-existing (immortal), ever-conscious (omniscient), ever-new bliss. At least in this version we have something to look forward to.

This is the Vedantic version espoused by Paramhansa Yogananda. While this is a one version of ego transcendence, Yogananda took the explanation one step further in an interesting twist. Yogananda added that inasmuch as Infinite consciousness must, by definition, contain all that is past, present or will be or can be in the future, then there must be contained in Infinity the living “memory” of all those lifetimes during which my soul was misidentified AS the doer, as the ego. Well, ok, you say, but so what?

The “but” here is intended to provide an explanation for another phenomenon of the spiritual path. The explanation starts with this precept: no one can achieve Self-realization without helping others. It’s not that your final liberation awaits their own but nonetheless, you must become, towards the end of your journey, the guru to other souls. Yogananda said, in fact, that the minimum number of souls is six.

(I have no idea why six. Six chakras? Who knows. I am fairly certain he was not the first to make this statement but I accept that the principle is intact even if "why the number six" eludes me.) 

The annals of spirituality include innumerable testimonies that to disciples the guru comes in vision or in actual living form even though the guru is no longer on the planet in human form, having “died” days, weeks, or centuries past. Some, like Krishna or Jesus, may well have even incarnated into new human forms since the time of that particular incarnation as Jesus or Krishna. Yet, they appear in the form held dear by their devotee.

Yogananda thus says that out of the Infinite (the Akasha), the devotee’s devotion calls forth the past form of the guru, notwithstanding that the guru is no longer in that form, or perhaps in any form whatsoever. 

There is, as a bypath, testimony that saints, while still living in their human body, can appear in vision or dreams to disciples and yet they have no awareness or recollection of this fact, having perhaps been even asleep at that particular moment! It is the soul, in other words, that is ever-awake and eternally present.

Lastly, Yogananda stated that even an avatar—one freed from all karma and who returns to human form as a savior—must don the trappings of ego in order to function distinctly in a human form. The difference between the avatar and most of us is the degree of identification with that form and that personality. 

In his famous poem, “Samadhi,” he writes “I, the Cosmic Sea, watch the little ego floating in Me.” Yogananda defined ego as the soul identified with the body (which includes the personality).

So we are still faced with the question: is the ego real or not? Is it “bad” or “good”? The answer? It depends!

Like Moses in the Old Testament of the Bible or Bhishma of the Indian epic the Mahabharata, the ego can awaken to the desire to be free of its own limitations and hypnosis of separateness but its very nature IS separateness. The ego can work to grow spiritually but there comes a point (after countless efforts to do so) where it must offer itself into the Infinite (or at the feet of the guru, the Lord, etc etc).

We are given the survival instinct for a reason greater than just the survival of the body. No such instinct could be at odds with the truth of our Self. If all reality has as its basis pure Consciousness than the “I can never die.” The question is “Who am I?” Am “I” the body and personality? 

As Bhishma, symbol of the ego in all, was heralded as a great hero and a man of dharma, so too our ego, in its essence, need not be identified with the material world, the body, likes and dislikes, and the senses. 

Without the power of individuation, this world could not exist. The so-called “Divine Ego” is the pure ego, free of identification with thoughts, emotions, and the world of matter and senses.

But while the ego has great power it can obviously greatly become steeped in delusion. For its re-awakening, another outside influence is needed. The power of God using the human channel of the guru can resurrect the soul’s memory of its true nature. The soul, in attunement with the guru, can then direct the ego in right action and right attitude until the ego at last offers itself in final surrender into the Infinite at which point the ego can be said to dissolve or to expand into Bliss.

At the moment of final surrender, the ego must accept the possibility of its extinguishment but this is its final test. It must face the abyss of nothingness and surrender to it before it can enter into "the kingdom of heavenly bliss." I call this moment the "dark night of the ego."

May you slay the Og(r)e of Ego that the Soul may reign on the Throne of God's Bliss, our true home!

Swami Hrimananda

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

How to be Thought-less!

Paramhansa Yogananda, in his now-classic life story, "Autobiography of a Yogi," describes yoga as "a method for restraining the natural turbulence of thoughts, which otherwise impartially prevent all men, of all lands, from glimpsing their true nature of Spirit." (Chapter 24).

From Chapter 41 of that modern scripture Yogananda gives this challenging poem from one "of the many great saints of South India...., Thayumanavar:

You can control a mad elephant;
You can shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger;
You can ride a lion;
You can play with the cobra;
By alchemy you can eke out your livelihood;
You can wander through the universe incognito;
You can make vassals of the gods;
You can be ever youthful;
You can walk on water and live in fire;
But control of the mind is better and more difficult.

Stilling the agitations of the "monkey mind" is the subject and goal of countless meditation techniques and millions of meditators alike!

Ramana Maharshi is one of the most notable 20th-century advocates of Advaita (non-dualism), particularly in what he termed "Self-inquiry:" the quest to know "Who am I?" The great teachings of East and West essentially urge us to "Know Thyself" and discover "Tat twam asi" (That Thou Art). Watching one's thoughts and/or breath are among the ubiquitous and universal techniques of focusing the mind in order to still the "natural turbulence of thoughts."

Techniques are given, and there are many, to help focus the mind in order to reach the point beyond our thoughts. Too many meditators mistake the path for the goal and continue with their mantras, devotions, prayers, or breathwork "until the cows come home." The cows, that is, of their returning thoughts.

Why is so little attention is given to the cessation of what one teacher calls the "self-structure." The small self (ego, subconscious, etc.) is a little dictator whose mission is to keep us focused on our body, its needs, and to protect, defend and affirm the personality (ego.) It does a good job from a Darwinian point of view but it doesn't give us anything beyond a fleeting and insecure fulfilment and a deeply entrenched habit of restlessness. Praise, one day, blame, the next.

For starters, almost nobody on this planet is the slightest bit interested in the cessation of mental activity called "me." After all, didn't Rene Descartes tell us that "I think, therefore, I AM?" For another, the cessation of mental activity is very, very hard (note poem quoted above). And for those very, very few who make a deep and sincere effort, what they get for their reward is that their ego-self gets to stare into the abyss of nothingness, facing the prospect of its dissolution! So no wonder even meditators take the equivalent of a "rain check!" 

[In a humorous aside, Swami Kriyananda, in his landmark book on raja yoga, "Awaken to Superconsciousness," gently chides the Buddhistic tendency to focus on negative aspects of enlightenment (a state of no-thing-ness (nir-vana)) as the reason the enlightened ones, Bodhisattvas, chose to defer their liberation and come back to help others!]

But what, then, is the reward of making the effort? To quote Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, "Even a little practice of this inward religion will save you from dire fears and colossal sufferings." I'd add to this that the benefits of meditation, speaking generally and clinically, derive from the very effort to focus the mind inwardly and away from the senses, body, and ego. In an analogous manner, sleep too is essential for mental and physical well-being.

Thus I don't feel to dwell on the reasons the effort, challenging as it seems, is more than repaid. Besides, too great a focus on "what I get from this practice" will tend to undermine "what I get from this practice!" All great teachers of meditation caution that non-attachment to results--even of our meditation--is essential to success in every endeavor, including meditation. Besides, the reasons to meditate are as varied as those who practice it. 

How, then, best to focus the mind and transcend the thoughts? On this, too, I have to concede that the prescription is individual. There are many meditation techniques, philosophies, and, as stated just above, reasons to meditate. A strict approach, such as Ramana Maharshi's practice of self-inquiry, is probably too austere for most modern (and restless) minds. It is termed, in the yogic tradition, the approach of gyana yoga. Krishna states that meditating upon the formless (no-thought, or Absolute) is difficult for the average human. 

A devotional approach satisfies the heart's natural yearning to be loved and to love. One can meditate upon the image, feeling or thought of one's chosen deity, guru, or even an abstract principle such as love itself! But our culture is far from one that is comfortable with devotion, being, as we are, so fixed upon reason and analysis.

An energetic approach has the advantage of not requiring a complex belief system and is epitomized in the universally popular and useful approach of mindfulness: using the breath as the meditation object (with or without a word formula or mantra). In this Age of Energy, let "pranayam be your 'religion'" to quote a chant popular with Swami Sri Yukteswar!

Deeper practices of energy-meditation may involve a focus on the flow of subtle energy (prana or chi) in the chakras or the deep spine. The most well known of these is termed, simply, Kriya Yoga and was popularized by Paramhansa Yogananda (see Chapter 26 of his autobiography mentioned above).

What's wrong with thinking, you ask? The thinking and intellectual function of the human mind is a mixed gift: it is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Thinking is necessarily logical and dual: this is not that, and that is not this! The intellect is a natural extension of the ego for it focuses on naming, labelling, distinguishing, and using for its advantage or protection the objects of the senses (people or things or forces it can control).  It has been well said that the mind makes a great tool but a poor master. 

Thus it is, by tradition from higher ages of consciousness, the power of the intellect (which can reveal the secrets of nature) is supposed to be given to or used only by one who has become identified with the soul, or higher Self. In such a case, this power is used for the good of all and not for self-aggrandizement or exploitation. It is obvious that at this time in history, this is far, far from the case.

Since the mid 20th century, it has often been said that humanity stands on the brink of self-destruction owing to our mastery of the tools of thinking, reasoning, analyzing and manipulating nature's secrets but that we have yet to save our souls! We have focused too greatly on the outer world at the expense of the inner world of consciousness. To this day, scientific dogma still insists that consciousness is the mere byproduct of matter, the brain, the body and evolution of the species. Reflection, and only a little is needed, would reveal the opposite: "I AM, therefore, I think!"

Thus it was that the noted historian Arnold Toynbee stated that while the west has conquered the east with its guns, the east will conquer the heart of the west with yoga. 

And finally, let me share this simple, uh oh: thought! The Thought-less Yogi emerges from the effort to still thoughts randomly throughout the day NOT just in the practice of meditation but between activities; before a phone call or email; at a stoplight. You learn to bring the monkey-to-heel by living increasingly in the "witness box" of the higher mind. This can be achieved whether your temperament is devotional, perceptive, or active. 

The state beyond thought, the transcendently aware state, must be felt, or intuited, not conceptualized. It is the portal to higher states of superconsciousness. As in Yogananda's quote above, the still mind "glimpses" our true nature as Spirit, as the formless I AM of all humanity, all creation, and of the Godhead. 

So train your monkey to be still and FEEL the stillness wherein no thoughts intrude. You may find it helpful to bridge ego consciousness to higher consciousness through the medium of a visualization from which you then extract the FEELING of transcendence. Examples include the image of the bright blue, cloudless skies on a sunny day; the vastness of the ocean when perfectly calm; the majesty of a great mountain; the roar of wind or water overtaking you; vastness of space in all directions; or the silvery-beam of moonlight filling you with deep peace and transcendent love. 

Once the raft of techniques has brought you to the shore, discard the raft and enter into PURE FEELING; PURE AWARENESS with no name, no form, no object to behold.

Joy to you!

Swami Hrimananda

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Yin and Yang of Meditation

Meditation has many benefits and no drawbacks (except for those not mentally balanced). But there are certainly yin and yang aspects of meditation. 

For example, meditation can be used for the benefit of the ego: concentration for the mind and vitality and self-awareness for the body. Or, meditation can be used to attune oneself to the higher Mind of the soul. 

Most of what is taught and most of those who practice meditation are seeking ego-oriented benefits such as calmness, inner peace, and mindfulness. Their meditation practice begins with the intention of  "I want.....this or that result." Since this intention is the basis for practically all ego-directed actions, few ever consider an alternative.

Among those who seek higher consciousness, meditation can take the form of an act of devotion, focusing on some form or image such as one's guru, a deity, or even a state of consciousness (such as samadhi, nirvana, moksha, etc.). The devotional approach can remain in the realm of an "I-Thou" act of worship or it can intend to or simply evolve into, merging into one's form of devotion.

There are those meditators who seek spiritual upliftment, consciousness, or even psychic powers for personal (ego) gratification! This can be the initial motivation behind meditation, or, it can be the result of back-sliding when the ego claims for itself the insights or powers which may appear as a result of one's otherwise sincere meditation practice. Such are the temptations that await the dedicated practitioner. 

And, let's face the truth here: the ego is our starting point even while ego transcendence is the well-established goal! A paradox to be sure. 

Let's pause for a moment to consider this "ego thing." Paramhansa Yogananda, the now-famous author of "Autobiography of a Yogi," defined the ego as "the soul identified with the body." Since ancient times and in the highest spiritual teachings of all great civilizations, our true nature and the goal of our existence is to "know thyself" as greater than the ego: as a child of the Infinite! As from the Vedas: "Tat twam asi." ("Thou art THAT!)

Admittedly, the details of what THAT is and how we realize THAT may vary in the fine print of scripture, commentary, and intellectual permutations. But beyond THAT there is no argument!

Returning now to where we left off: "devotion." As devotion is, in an energetic sense, the equivalent of dedication, a meditator (aka a "yogi") may not think of herself as being of a devotional temperament but the intensity of her focused dedication to meditation amounts to the same thing. A meditation intention and practice that seeks to still the mind by way of one-pointed focus on a mantra, sound, or other "meditation-object," and which essentially seeks to dissolve the ego-identity and sense of separateness, can be said to be a form of devotion, albeit more by concentration of the mind than by focusing upon expanding the heart's "natural love," though in fact the latter may be, and ultimately must be, the consequence.

Put another way, progress in meditation takes dedication and devotion to the goal and to the practice. Such dedication is surely a form of love as much as any classical feelings or forms that devotion might traditionally assume.

It can also be said that one always begins upon the spiritual path (and meditation) from the only point of reference we have: the ego! Gradually, as we progress, we morph into self-offering of the little self into the great Self as one's consciousness expands beyond the ego and body.

We see this transformation taking place in the lives of meditators who truly go deep into the practice. We even see amongst some of those who practice yoga postures a certain level of awakening that can rightly be called "spiritual" even if, initially, unintended.

At the risk of going into deep philosophical territory, there is another aspect of the yin and yang of meditation. It goes something like this (using non-technical terms whether from Vedanta, Shankhya, yoga, or Buddhism):

There's a part of ourselves that yearns for stability, constancy, and unchanging reality and truth. There's also a part of ourselves, which like all nature around us, that is always changing and which delights and invigorates in our creativity and engagement in life.

The reconciliation of these two could be described as the awakening of our ever-watchful Self (soul) into the awareness of and participation with the ever-changing reality of creation which swirls in flux around us.

By contrast, the ego, that part of our consciousness which identifies with the body, personality, and the seeming separateness of all created things (physical and mental), isn't so much watchful but wholly engaged. The difference between the ego's desires and emotions and itself simply doesn't exist. As a result, the ego experiences the ups, downs, boredom, and occasional peace in an unceasing and ultimately exhausting and monotonous inevitability. In short, we suffer, for no pleasure can be known without fearing and later experiencing its ending or its opposite. Pain, by contrast, feels "eternal" when we are overcome by it.  

The alternative to being awash in the ocean of emotion and change is to dive deep into the ocean of peace within. Thus is born the practice of entering into the mindful or watchful state. In the meditative state of quietude, the ceaseless rising and falling of our thoughts, energies and responses comes under our calm scrutiny. We can see flux for what it is: empty, fleeting, and separate from the Self. The deeper we go into this state the more we realize that we are and can be untouched by the waves at the surface of the sea of our senses (and our mind). 

The Shiva Self, recumbent and watchful, penetrates the center of the Shakti Self of prana, energy and creation even as the Shakti Self, in the presence of Shiva, inclines to be still to receive Shiva within her Self. 

This uniting of Observer, observing and observed
becomes a dance of Bliss, sometimes withdrawn and sometimes immanent in all creation. Even those descriptions which separate God the Father (the Infinite Spirit) from creation cannot fully satisfy the continuum of consciousness both within and without. 

Paramhansa Yogananda's famous poem, "Samadhi," flows in and out of creation even if it is also understood that Bliss stands apart and whole from the creation and serves as creation's Father-Mother. 

But such philosophical niceties go beyond, far beyond, anything practical and helpful for those engaged in meditation practices. Even for us, we find we flow in and out of our own creation (our mind's activity). 

Nonetheless, to experience a state unconditioned by awareness of body and ego identity is powerfully transforming, healing, and enlightening. Few meditators, I suspect, aspire to this state; fewer experience it. But not because it is beyond our means.

For indeed, this unconditioned state is the center of our Being and is always present. Whether by Self-inquiry ("Who am I?") or by inner stillness achieved through meditation practice, it exists perennially behind our mental flux. "Be still and know that I AM God." (Psalm 46:10).

Watching one's thoughts is a frequent instruction given as the practice of meditation. But I wonder how many of those using this technique are not, in fact, drawn forcibly into participating with their thoughts and their reactions to those thoughts (rather than remaining truly watchful and unaffected). 

The challenge of watching our thoughts is that our thoughts are the basis for our separateness. Our emotional response to our perceptions, moreover, cements our identity to those so-called realities. Like the oft given image of perceiving a snake in the dim light of dusk in the path ahead when in fact it is only a rope, we make our share of false conclusions and all too often proclaim, "That's my story and I'm sticking with it." The sense of separateness and its cocoon of beliefs, memories, opinions, desires, impressions, and fears is deeply embedded into our the matrix of our sense of self-identity.

In the East, the mind is considered the sixth sense: separate and apart from the Self. In the West, we think, as Descartes declared, "I think, therefore I am!"

Therefore, because thoughts are the issue, it is generally more useful to have and to focus upon a "meditation object." Universally, the breath is the simplest and most available "object" because we all breathe and no beliefs are necessary. There are other reasons as well. The watching of breath can be with or without a word formula or mantra. 

Other reasons for watching the breath include the observable fact that in the effort to concentrate deeply, we naturally hold or quiet the breath. It is the last obstacle to complete concentration. It is also, ironically, an excellent "object" of meditation for the reason that focusing on the breath can quiet the mind and when restless thoughts subside, the breath becomes quiet. Anyone who is given even a modest amount of training can demonstrate these facts and benefit from this practice immediately.

Thus it is that the breath has become (and likely always has been) the most common focus for meditation throughout time and the world.

But, it remains an "object" until or unless our sense of separateness begins to dissolve. One can say, intellectually, that we enter the breath or the breath enters us or anything else you want to say. But nothing that can be said can truly describe the experience of oneness. (All words require subject, verb, and object and this very logical necessity is inadequate to describe the state of being that is actually experienced in real time.)

The experience of oneness can occur spontaneously and does happen to many people, whether as children or adults. It can happen in meditation even when not held out as a goal or a possibility. But mostly it is best if the meditator seeks the state and has some training and intuition in the possibility.

Nothing is lost in such a state even if on a profound level the ego-mind suspects that it is an existential threat to its separateness. In this, the ego is both correct and incorrect. Testimony of the ages and the sages is that nothing is lost in the realization of the state of oneness and everything worthwhile in life (happiness, that is!) is found. But such is the price of the pearl of great price: the very real-seeming threat of extinction.

No wonder some teachers and traditions describe this state in negative terms: "nirvana" (no vanas, or no mental activities of the ego-construct). Buddha gave no description of the undescribable. The yogis, however, describe the state as satchidanandam: ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss. 

Some aver that bliss is a passing phase on the path to nirvana; some say (as Yogananda does) that samadhi IS the state of bliss. Well, no matter because all who have achieved it say it is the end of all striving, the end of suffering, and the summum bonum of existence. Let us not split the hairs of Holy Grail!

In this, there is neither yin nor yang. Nor is this state the annihilation of our functionality in the human body and in this world. Quite the opposite: freed from the delusion of the limited ego-self, we are free to act in harmony with the divine Self.

The awakened Mind then participates freely in the swirl of creation's eternal flux. Stability at the center; movement at the periphery. A dance choreographed by the Higher Mind of God.

Yogananda stated "I killed Yogananda long ago. No one dwells in this form but He."

And why not? Is not both the outer world and the inner world a ceaseless flux inextricably linked in both energy and form? We only separate ourselves in the limited realm of the five (six, actually, including the mind) senses? Our sense of separateness is an illusion, one not difficult to unmask by paying attention, even by reason, and certainly by intuition: for those courageous enough to enter a brave new world.

For those who might benefit from several excellent videos on this subject (and much more, both science and metaphysics), I direct your attention to the movie Inner Worlds Outer Worlds. It can be viewed in four half hour segments for free on YouTube or the entire move for $3.99: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1LtuE8zRMo

Aligned with this is another movie called simply Samadhi. It is followed by four guided video meditations. Although these are strongly influenced by Buddhism terminology, Vedanta, Sankhya and Yoga terminology are also included. References to Egypt, native American, Christian terminology are also presented. 

In YouTube.com search for "Samadhi." The two-hour movie is in two one-hour parts and in various languages as well.

Similarly, four guided Samadhi meditations are excellent and are based on watching the breath. Search on Samadhi meditation.

While I personally and most of the readers of this blog practice the techniques taught by Paramhansa Yogananda and therefore don't "need" the resources above, they are well done and in their essence are not contradictory to what Yogananda taught, though their emphases and terminology may differ in parts.

Joy to you!

Nayaswami Hrimananda




Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Yogananda's Recipe for REJUVENATION!

From Yogananda's NEW SUPER COSMIC SCIENCE COURSE (1934) - LESSON 1 - PRINCIPLES AND EXERCISES FOR REJUVENATION!


PRINCIPLES AND EXERCISES FOR REJUVENATION

Rejuvenation exercise.
            1. Stand erect with arms stretched straight above the head. Relax while holding this position. Throw breath out and keep breath out for the duration of 14 counts. Inhale and feel that you are drawing energy through the finger tips into the medulla and body parts.
            2. Put chin on chest, tightening muscles of the throat. Slowly inhale, lifting head up and bending it backward. Relax, drop chin on chest, and exhale.
            3. The mental Rope Jumping Exercise. Swing your hands as if you are swinging a rope and jump over the imaginary rope.
            4. Exhale, and Squat on the haunches, sitting on heals. Stand, inhale, and hold breath, Counting 1 to 10. Then exhale and drop to squatting position again while exhaling. (Knees should not touch the ground and back should remain erect through whole exercise). Repeat five times.
            5. Raise arms sideward, shoulder high. Swing them forward, touching palms in front, then swing back to side position. Repeat 10 times.

Super silence method.
            Sit on a straight chair, spine straight. Expel the breath quickly, and keep breath out, counting mentally 1 to 10. Inhale slowly, hold breath, counting 1 to 10. Repeat 10 times.
            Then expel breath and forget it, not caring whether it comes in again or not. Concentrate on the toes of the left foot and say, mentally, “Om.” on each toe. Do same to the toes of the right foot. Then concentrate on the sole of the left foot. Say, “Om”. Do likewise with the right foot. Concentrate on the left and right calves, mentally saying “Om”. Do the same with the left and right thighs, left and right haunches, navel, abdomen, liver, spleen, stomach, pancreas, heart, left and right lungs, left and right hands, and arms, left side of neck, right side of neck, front throat and back of neck. Say “Om” mentally, concentrating on the pituitary gland, pineal gland, medulla, point between the eyebrows, mouth, big and little tongues, on the left and right nostrils, on the left and right eyes, left and right ears, cerebellum, and cerebrum. Then go up and down the coccygeal, sacral, lumbar, dorsal, cervical, medulla, and Christ Center at the point between the eyebrows, mentally chanting “Om” Try to feel that the whole body is surrounded within and without with the holy vibration of “Om.”

            Mentally add, multiply, subtract, or divide numbers. (For example: 12 and 123 = 246; 123 and 321 = 444; 444 divided by 2 = 222).

            Sit quiet and meditate on the joy of silence. Think of that joy as communion with God. The more you meditate, the more you will realize that nothing else can give you that refined joy but the increasing joy of Silence. That joy-contact in meditation is the contact of God. Pray deeply with devotion, first for God’s love, then for wisdom, happiness, health, prosperity, and then for the fulfilment of any specific legitimate wish.