Friday, October 26, 2007

A true Brahmana

Dhyanapeetam has been organizing mass fire rituals called Maha Saptayaagam in various cities of South India where 1008 individuals perform the homa, fire ritual. The group energy that such rituals create is amazing and cleanses the whole space. We will dedicate a post for more on this.

During our weekly group meeting we told a new devotee, 'Swamiji is performing 1008 homas...'. His immediate reply was, 'wow! that would need so many priests...'

For a long time, people have associated rituals like homa or abhisheka with priests. It is assumed that only they can perform these rituals. The so-called non-brahmins themselves assume that they are not qualified to do any of these. And an even more interesting fact is the so-called brahmins themselves believe that these rituals have to be performed by a smaller section of brahmins, i.e. the priests of the temples.

Today, the meaning of brahmana is limited to a dhoti clad man with a small pig tail on his tonsured head and either a namam (vertical lines drawn with vermillion paste to indicate he is a worshipper of Vishnu) or vibhooti smeared forehead (indicating he is a worshipper of Shiva). The italics in the previous statement are to highlight that the fact that the brahmana has to be a male. That is the general notion today.

This has become the meaning because that is what we see. In most major temples, we see only male priests. If we want to conduct a homa or some elaborate pooja, we immediately call a priest. Yes agreed that we do not know the ritual; so we call an experienced priest. But the point is we don't even want to know what the ritual is because most of the times, we believe it is not our job.

Swami Nithyananda says, 'This is one of the biggest conspiracies by the society on humankind.' The varnashrama as defined by the actual Vedic tradition has four classes or varna - brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra. The first class - brahmana refers to the class of people who were inclined towards spiritual practices. And this had nothing to do with the person's lineage or ancestral profession.

Swami Nithyananda is bringing back the ancient true Vedic tradition. He says, 'Anyone who practices the spiritual practices is a brahmana. It does not matter what his parents are, what his grandparents are. As long as he is treading on the spiritual path to merge the aatman (individual consciousness) with brahman (the Cosmic consciousness), he is a brahmana. No questions about it.'

People irrespective of caste, religion, creed or sex are allowed and trained to perform the rituals by Swami Nithyananda. He does not care if one are male or a female. In fact, in the Dhyanapeetam ashram in India, it is females who perform the aarti (fire offering). When He initiates people as monastic disciples He does not even bother what his/her religion was, what his/her caste was, what his/her colour is.

Moreover, in places like Los Angeles ashram, He is training westerners to perform the homa themselves. He is not limiting the Vedic tradition to just to India. Vedic tradition is not related to just one religion or one particular race. It is a science, it is a life style.

The ancient science is being brought to the doorstep of every individual. He is providing various opportunities, various possibilities with just one goal: to guide as many has possible realize their true identity. If a click as happened in you, do not miss Him. You never know how many births you have to wait before you come across a living enlightened master who personally works on you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A possibility ...

This weekend, we went to Sri Ramakrishna Mission (RKM) in Singapore to witness the Navarathri celebrations. We reached there at about 7.20 pm, just in time for aarthi, and sat through the bhajans till about 8.30 pm. The meditation hall in RKM is simply awesome, so full of energy. As the bhajans were going on, we could enter into the no-thought zone very easily. The life size idol of Sri Ramakrishna, clad in white and surrounded by red flowers, was radiating the innocence, devotion and divine energy in the hall.

Everyone was participating in the bhajans; some of them were meditating; some were singing. As soon as the bhajans ended, it was a different scene altogether. Some ladies started discussing about their childrens' school, some finding out more about their friends' saree; some guys were back in their office or rather they got their office to RKM; and many were of course talking about the menu for dinner that was waiting downstairs.

If we think about it, this is a very common sight in a temple. We see people discussing all their work, daily activities etc. in a temple. While waiting for the darshan, all we do is to talk about our worries, stresses etc. In fact we see people complaining if the queue is too long in temples like Tirupati etc.

A temple is an energy hub. The main deities of the most prominent Indian temples were installed by enlightened masters. Swamiji says, 'the deities in temples in Rameswaram, Kedarnath, Palani, Tirupati etc. were all installed by enlightened masters. So these temples are a storehouse of energy. This is the reason why we feel calmness and peace when we enter these temples. The energy of the Master or the Cosmic energy still reverberates in the garbha gruha, sanctum sanctorum.'

Swami Nithyananda says, 'when we enter a temple, our thoughts per second (TPS) decreases.' But what do we do? We don't even allow this to happen. Instead of immersing in the silence and energy of the temple, all we try to do is pollute the temple also with our thoughts.

The whole purpose of going to a temple is to allow our Being to connect with the Cosmic Consciousness or the Divine Energy. It is probably one of the easiest possible ways to do so...

But only if we allow it to happen.

But no! We do not want to leave our identities. We take our identities, our name, our designation, our status, our money, our job, everything to the temple. We take our EGO along with us to the temple. We just cannot let go of these even for a few minutes.

Sometimes in places like Tirupati, we see people showing off their so-called high status right inside the sanctum sanctorum for a longer darshan. Whats the point of the longer darshan if we still are holding to our ego? How much ever we stay inside right in front of the statue, we go nowhere because our ego is still as solid as a rock.

Swamiji has been building temples all over the world, installing the deities with life energy. One devotee asked Him, 'Swamiji, what is the point of doing all this? Why so many temples and ashrams?'

Swamiji replied, 'One six-foot Kali idol gave one Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. One Ramakrishna again gave us so many enlightened beings. So there is nothing wrong if I spend time and money on temples. It is worth it. There is a possibility. Thats all.'

Each one of us have a possibility to taste the Divine Energy whenever we enter a temple or an ashram. Going one step further, we even have the possibility of becoming a Ramakrishna. Enlightened masters have created so many possibilities for us.

Now the ball is in our court.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Laugh it out!! (Nithya Yoga Series - 5)

2 days ago, I was having dinner with my friend and he said to me 'I don't know why, but I am feeling irritated for no reason nowadays. I know you will tell me to drop the irritation with awareness, but the problem here is I don't even know what's causing the irritation. So, I am trying my best to stop the irritation, but nothing is working'. That led us to a fruitful discussion on one of the things we do in Nithya Yoga - silent belly laughter. I will not be discussing the technique here but talking of the essence of it.

Before we get into it, let us analyse the case above. Firstly, my friend, being a meditator himself, had the awareness of the fact that there is irritation, which is very good in itself. If we don't even know what's controlling us, then we are literally a slave to a stranger. Now, putting in awareness does not mean resisting it or expecting the irritation to drop. It means 'just witnessing' the irritation in a relaxed manner, without judging it or without fighting it.

The problem here is that my friend took the irritation too seriously. Why is this wrong? Because when we take it seriously and start fighting with it, we have already given it power. Swamiji gives a beautiful analogy of how we give power to all our engraved memories controlling us - be it our fear, greed, guilt etc:

In Ramayana (Indian epic) there is character called Vaali. His specialty was that when anybody went to fight with him, half of the energy of the opponent would be sucked up by Vaali. Since Vaali already had some power of his own, he would invariably land up stronger than the opponent. Smart eh?

If we are smarter, we would never fight Vaali. But unfortunately, this is exactly what we do with our problems. We take them too seriously. Every time we think 'Oh this is troubling me', we are indeed allowing that to trouble us. So, what is the alternative you may ask.

Laughter! :)

This may sound absurd, but mind you, it's a very very powerful technique. An example: if our boss yells at us, we have a choice whether to get upset about it and ruin the rest of the day... or to just let go with a laughter. Who gains at the end of it? When I say laughter, it does not necessarily mean laughing loudly, it could just be a silent one. Think about it, it's your day that is precious.

Genuine laughter does two things: Firstly when you laugh from deep within, you do not think. And when the mind drops, you automatically enter a meditative state. Many of the meditation programs offered at Dhyanapeetam have long laughter sessions as meditations. 42 mins of belly laughter can transport you into a space you have never experienced, bringing with it a deep sense of calmness and joy.

Secondly, and more importantly, the very attitude with which you look at the problem changes. Really, nothing in life is worth taking too seriously. Just laugh at all your problems, and at yourself. Just don't even give the problem the status of a "problem" inside. If you do that, then you have already crowned the problem as "Vaali" and you know what happens next if you do that. When you laugh at it, you are not giving the problem any space inside. When you fight it, you have let it come in.

There are many Zen Buddhist monks who have gotten enlightened by just laughing! We don't have even one good reason to take life so seriously. So let's just laugh it out :)

Here is Swamiji's discourse on Laughter is Medicine. Enjoy!

Friday, October 19, 2007

The mystical triad

This morning, I was listening to a superb discourse by my Master where He speaks about triputi bheda. I would like to share it with you all. The concept is mindblowing. This is in a way related to one of the previous posts, which throws light on our basic way of operation, by first separating ourselves from the scene.

The triputi bheda refers to the separation of the triad - the see-er, the scene and the act of seeing. Let us see what this means. Because of our solid identity with this body-mind, we become a distinct see-er. We have cut ourselves out from the rest of the universe. Now, whatever else we perceive becomes the scene. This does not necessarily refer to seeing through our eyes, but could be applied to any other sense as well.

Now, the process of seeing happens because of a constant jumping that is happening from the see-er to the scene. The constant bridge that fills the see-er and the scene is the act of seeing. In other words, it is the distinction between the see-er and the scene that causes the act of seeing. When this separation stops, the act stops. For example, can we see our own eyes (without a mirror)?

Now, all spiritual practices are aimed at reducing the gap between the see-er and the scene. You may ask how. Let us take the path of knowledge (gnana). Here through sharp reasoning and analysis, you realize there is no scene at all, just the pure witnessing consciousness. The whole scene is only an illusion of the mind. Now when the scene is taken away, the bridge of seeing falls. The triputi unite and the Truth happens. All relativeness drops and absoluteness remains.

What about the path of devotion? Swamiji explains beautifully that in this case, the see-er dissolves in awe of the scene. How Mirabai melted at the glory of Krishna or how Ramakrishna melted at the mention of Kaali, completely killing the see-er. Once again, the bridge falls and the same uniting happens. I am sure many of us have experienced brief glimpses of this state with our close encounters with nature. When we have completely lost ourselves in its beauty - be it a breathtaking sunset, or in front of a vast ocean, or standing in front of mighty mountains.

So, whether we are becoming one with the see-er or the scene it doesn't matter. We just have to immerse ourselves completely in either or them, breaking the bridge and becoming one with the Truth, with Nithyananda!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Breathe in bliss, breathe out bliss (Nithya Yoga Series - 4)

Me: So how are your yoga classes going on.
He: Going good.. today we did a new pranayama (breathing technique)..
Me: Oh ok, so how do you do it?
He: After the asana practice, we enter into pranayama and feel breathing in all positivity and breathing out all negativity...
Me: Hmm.. that's interesting. Are you sure you know what you are doing.
He: Why? Isn't it right to fill ourselves with positivity...
Me: Ya, that part is fine; the second part is what is dangerous.
He: Didn't get you..
Me: You say that when you do pranayama, you feel breathing in all positivity and breathing out all negativity..
He (interrupts): Yup exactly... what's wrong in that?
Me: Hmmm.. you see, when we constantly tell ourselves breathe in positivity and breathe out negativity, though we are telling ourselves to fill positivity, we are also reminding ourselves that we are actually filled with negativity. Isn't it?
He: I see what you are getting at...
Me: Like I said before, words have power; our verbalization has power. Whatever we verbalize, whatever we think, either we speak out or speak in, has immense power. So when constantly tell breathe out negativity, we are actually telling ourselves, we are filled with garbage.

We are reinforcing the idea of us being filled with negativities. In other words, we are actually giving power to all negativities inside us.

And in this process, what we are also doing is filling our surroundings with negativities.. We are actually adding negative thoughts to the Universe. Imagine taking the garbage out of the thrash can and throwing it all around the house :)

He: Wow! Imagine sending out positive waves instead...

Me: Yes, you are absolutely right. Infact that's a beautiful technique for creating peaceful vibes all over the world, yes for world peace.
He: True, I the solution is ...?
Me: Swami Nithyananda in Nithya Yoga says, just feel the bliss while breathing in and breathing out.. Just say, breathe in bliss, breathe out bliss..
He: You keep telling about bliss. How do we feel bliss?
Me: Interesting question. Bliss is the joyful state which is our innate nature. As children we were always joyful, without a reason. We jumped and danced without a reason. We were continuously in the blissful state.. Now if I ask you to dance, you will have all kinds of thoughts, what will they think, what will my friends think etc.

We have been loaded with layers and layers of social conditioning and in the process, we have forgotten how to even smile without a reason. Thats the keyword - without a reason.

We are happy but with a reason. We are happy because we have a job, a house, a wife. When the same job becomes hectic or is lost, when the same house becomes old, when the same wife tells you are fat, we become sad.

There is a reason for our happiness, whereas bliss is always there; there are no reasons for us to be blissful.

Being alive is enough, for us to be blissful.

You can try a simple meditation. Sit comfortably with eyes closed. Think of all happy moments in your life. Just think and relive all your happy moments. Express the happiness on your face. Whatever may be reason, just relive the experience. Now, drop the reason. You will see that you do not actually need a reason to be happy. You will see that happiness automatically turns into bliss.. try it, you will see for yourself the difference. Just drop the reason.

He: Hmm.. ok let me try..

Me: If you get a chance watch the video on bliss and choicelessness by Swamiji. He gives a beautiful explanation of bliss..

He: Sure will do..

(Continued next post...)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

So what if we are born Human ???

Let me start with this question,

How many times in your entire life have you thanked God, or whatever you want to call, for this human birth that you are leading?

In our previous post, we quoted Shankaracharya where He says one of the most difficult thing to happen is human birth. Having a human body is the greatest thing that can happen to the soul that our body is housing.

So, what is so great about this human birth anyway?

It is said that the soul takes up this human birth after going through some thousands of bodies. The concept of dasavatharam, ten incarnations of Vishnu is exactly this. Starting from matsyavatara, incarnation of fish, to koormavatara, incarnation of tortoise, to varahavatara, incarnation of the boar, to narsimhavatara, incarnation of half human, half lion, to vaamanavatara, pigmy and all the way to Krishna, the pure Consciousness in human form. Swami Nithyananda says, 'whether we believe it or not, whether we understand it or not, whether we accept it or not, this is the truth. We have gone through various cycles of birth and death through different bodies before this human birth. '

Now till we reach human birth, there is a continuous natural process of evolution that goes on. Animals act by instinct. They hunt when they are hungry, they mate when they have the urge and they sleep when they are sleepy. They do not have a choice.

When we reach human birth, the process of evolution is no more natural. Yes, you read it correct. Several enlightened masters have talked about it. Swami Nithyananda says, 'the natural process of evolution stops with human birth. Now it is in your hands.'

As a human, we are given complete freedom and will as to how we want to evolve. Here evolution is towards realization of the Ultimate. The whole journey of the soul is to merge with the Ultimate. As a human, we are entitled for the greatest gifts of all - freedom, will and the most important one - conscious choice.

Swami Nithyananda says, 'we have all the freedom but we do not have the will.' This is the truth. We have all the freedom in the world but we take it for granted. We take this human birth of granted. We do not even stop for a moment and look back and thank for this birth. All we do is keep complaining. Even if we thank God or whatever, it is with either in fear or in greed; fear of losing what we have or greed of wanting more and more.

The greatest gifts that we have have become the greatest obstacles towards our very own evolution. This is because we do not want to exercise our conscious choice. This is because we want to remain in the same state for ever and ever. Deep down, we do not want to evolve because we feel safe with this identity. It is like a scared ostrich burying its head into the ground and feeling safe from predators. This is what we do.

Now the bouncer; in this human birth, if and only if we make a conscious choice towards the Ultimate, will we ever be able to move towards it. Otherwise, we rot in this cycle of birth and death. And even worse, we might go a few steps back in the chain of evolution to take up an animal's body.

An enlightened master holds the master key to the Ultimate Consciousness. Only as a human, we have the greatest opportunity and freedom to consciously choose to get the key and open the door. And to top it all, the company of a living enlightened master makes the path even more easy because He keeps on reminding us, 'don't waste this human birth...' He works on us personally because He is pure compassion and wants us to experience exactly the same state in which He is living.

This human birth is an opportunity. Now its upto us to either remain deluded and stuck in the web of life and death or exercise our right to enlightenment.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Walking on the razor's edge

It is said that walking in this spiritual path is like walking on the edge of a razor. Why? Because, only the daring and the focussed ones survive the walk. If we are not strong enough, we wouldn't even try to venture out. Or even if we decide to walk on it, if we are not focussed, convinced and brave, it is very easy to fall off the razor, sometimes even causing hurt.

In our limited experience on this path, we have seen all three categories of people. One, who do not even bother to try, second, those who try but give up very soon and the third who are the 'spiritual warriors'. The first category are those who are scared deep down about transformation. Of course sometimes they give excuses about not being interested or not having the time. Trust me, these are just excuses. Because no excuse can stop the fire from burning, if it is ignited already. We just want to postpone the process as we are too caught up with our so called 'busy' lives.

Second category are those who feel 'why not give it a shot?'. Now after standing on the razor to walk on it, if our mind is elsewhere we will obviously fall. Normally whatever we do, whatever we talk, whatever we think etc. are all inspired by what is appreciated by society. But to walk on the spiritual razor, it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks, only YOU have to be convinced 100% about it, else the fall is certain. We have encountered many who start off meditation and other spiritual practices with great enthusiasm, but then after a while the fizz wears off. There is no more push and the person just drops out, either feeling tired or bored.

This is because the conviction was never present. If we were to treat spirituality as something that would just add to the count of things in our showcase, then the fire was never ignited in the first place. Hence after a while, the boredom or fatigue kicks in. If the fire is really lit then nobody needs to push another for these things, something inside will keep pushing with great strength. Swami Nithyananda calls this igniting of fire as a 'click'. He says each time the words of the Master resonate deep down in our being saying 'Hey, that's so true'. It doesn't matter whether we are able to express to others or not, but we couldn't be more clear or convinced, then we have had that click, that spark. These clicks are what Swamiji calls 'Initiation'.

The third category are those in whom this spark is given the right conditions to burn into a flame, with vigor and valor. Gradually, the flame becomes so bright that it starts to radiate the light to others as well. We have had the fortune of interacting with many of such disciples of Swami Nithyananda who are absolutely clear and convinced. You should see them talk, the glow in their eyes, the bliss on their face, the depth of their conviction. Truly as our Master puts it, when His disciples inspire others towards the truth, it the Master talking through them.

Initiation from the Master is the greatest thing that can happen in one's life. Only those who have experienced it can attest it. To be honest, we have been with our Master physically only for a few minutes, but that touch of the Master has done so much deep down. We may not have seen anything phenomenal immediately after our brief interactions with our Master, but we know that the flame that He has ignited burns every day brighter and brighter, reminding us of the Truth. If we look back at who we were and the changes that have come about, we know clearly why.

I leave you with this video of Swamiji delivered during Guru Poornima this year, when He spoke about how to catch the clicks and allow them to work on us constantly.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Missing, again and again and again...

There is a verse from Bhagvat Gita which goes:

avajananti mam mudha
manusim tanum asritam
param bhavam ajananto
mama bhuta-mahesvaram 9.11

In this verse Krishna tells Arjuna - Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.

Now I know how true the words of Krishna are! During the last one and a half year, when I talk about Swami Nithyananda to people or when I showed His videos, I have seen quite a few people who say, 'Nah, I don't get the idea of worshipping a human...'

There are people who are strong believers of God, who go to temples/church/mosque, who do all kinds of Vedic rituals at their place. They have strong faith in the power of the idols. But you say one word about a living enlightened master, they run away from you.

This has been happening from the time of Krishna, otherwise why would Krishna say that in Bhagvat Gita. As recently as the 19th/20th century, the world saw one of the greatest enlightened masters - Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. When He was alive, people thought He was a mad man; they said He was acting when Ramakrishna used to enter into ecstasy with the mention of the word Kali. Now, after a hundred years, people throng his ashrams around the world. Every Vijaya Dashami when Goddess Kali is worshipped, people go to the nearest Ramakrishna Ashram.

To these very same people if you talk about a living enlightened Master like Swami Nithyananda, I have seen how they started speculating - 'I can believe Ramakrishna is God; He is enlightened. How can this living person be enlightened?'

We are very comfortable with a stone idol being called as God; we are ready to bathe in the holy rivers; we are happy to see and worship a person physically not present. But, we just cannot accept another living person as God or some Supreme Soul or some Supreme Power... whatever you want to call it.

Why? Why can't we associate the word God with a living person? The answer is simple. Our ego! Our ego does not allow us to accept anything else as more supreme than itself. It is ready to accept a stone idol as God, a dead person as God because it thinks it can back off when the same idol asks it to surrender in return. That faith to an idol is not wrong. That devotion is not wrong at all. Ramakrishna became enlightened because of His strong devotion to a 6 feet Kali idol. But Ramakrishna surrendered Himself completely. He had such a craving for Kali that for a glimpse of Her, he was ready to behead himself.

In the name of rituals and pooja, whatever we are doing is just a farce because our ego is still solid. How many times have we completely immersed ourselves in ritual? We cannot accept a living person as God because of the same reason. When we surrender to a living enlightened person, our ego is scared that it will be killed.

Because it knows, that is precisely what a Master would do - Kill Ego...

Shankaracharya, an enlightened master who was exponent on Advaithic (non-duality) philosophy, says in his Vivekachudaamani,

Durlabham Trayamevaitat Daivanugraha-hetukam;
Manushyatvam Mumukshutvam Maha-purushasamsrayah.

which means, the three things that are most difficult to obtain are - a human birth, desire for liberation and the company of a living enlightened Master.

And when such an opportunity is placed right in front of us, we do not recognize it. Instead we think, 'how I wish I was born during the time of Krishna' People used to go and tell Ramakrishna exactly this. Ramakrishna used to tell them, that same Krishna is in front you. And today many tell our Master 'how nice it would have been if I could sit at the feet of Ramakrishna...'

Swami Nithyananda says jovially, 'the grandfather when alive was outside the house, in the out-house; when he died, he was brought inside the house, inside the God's room!'

Our ego is continuously finding different ways to escape from dissolving and in this process, we have been missing living enlightened masters all along. We have either missed them due to our ignorance or mistook them to be just humans.

Mind you, if you have a chance, better grab it; otherwise you never know how many more births you have to take before you find a living enlightened master again.