I am

सर्वस्य चाहं हृदि संनिविष्टो मत्तः स्मृतिर्ज्ञानमपोहनं च ।
वेदैश्च सर्वैरहमेव वेद्यो वेदान्तकृद्वेदविदेव चाहम् ॥१५॥
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

sarvasya – of all living beings;
ca – and;
aham – I;
hṛdi – in the heart;
sanniviṣṭaḥ – situated;
mattaḥ – from Me;
smṛtiḥ – remembrance;
jñānam – knowledge;
apohanam – forgetfulness;
ca – and;
vedaiḥ – by the Vedas;
ca – also;
sarvaiḥ – all;
aham – I am;
eva – certainly;
vedyaḥ – knowable;
vedānta-kṛt – the creator of the Vedānta;
veda-vit – the knower of the Vedas;
eva – certainly;
ca – and;
aham – I.

I am also situated within the heart of all living beings.
Remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness proceed from me.
And by the vedas I am surely knowable by all.
Indeed I am the creator of Vedanta, and Knower of the Vedas.

 

~ Bhagavad-Gita, chapter 15, verse 15

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Freedom

“Freedom is a quality of the spirit, it is not the result of a reaction. A free person rejects from their mind and heart even the memory of bondage. They are not burdened by past bitterness and indemnity, the strife and struggle of bygone days.

For them, today is fresh; it has never been before. The free man meets each day with a fresh heart, a fresh mind, a fresh spirit. He clings to nothing, neither does he find anything which should be rejected.

They are unbiased, their mind is unconditioned by prestige or prejudice. They are free from personal ambition, superiority or inferiority complexes, from selfishness and slave mentality. They go from freedom to greater freedom.”

~ Swami #Venkatesananda Saraswati

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#yogin
#spiritualawakening
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Ahimsa

Yoga-Sūtra 2.35  अहिम्साप्रतिष्ठामां तत्सन्निधौ वैरत्यागः॥ ३५॥
ahimsāpratiṣṭhāyām tat sannidhāu vairatyāgaḥ

As a Yogi becomes firmly grounded in non-injury (ahimsa), other people who come near will naturally lose any feelings of hostility. ।  Patañjali states in sutra 2.35 that being firmly grounded in non-violence creates an atmosphere in which others can let go of their hostility.
As the presence of the peaceful quells the feelings of hostility in others, in this way the yogin participates in overcoming the mental disturbances that hostility arises from.
This helps to create tranquility in their environment and beyond, thereby contributing to the greater good, which is the ideal of lokasamgraha, (Bhagavad-Gītā 3.20-21).

The karmic work of the yogin is to contribute to the betterment and guidance of mankind:

कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धमास्थता जनकादयः ।
लोकसंग्रहमेवापि सम्पश्यन्कर्तुमर्हसि । २० ।

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जन: ।
स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते ।। २१ ।।

karmaṇaiva hi sansiddhim āsthitā janakādayaḥ
loka-saṅgraham evāpi sampaśhyan kartum arhasi
yad yad ācharati śhreṣhṭhas tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute lokas tad anuvartate

By performing their prescribed duties, King Janak and others attained perfection. You should also perform your work to set an example for the good of the world. Whatever actions great persons perform, common people follow. Whatever standards they set, all the world pursues.

~Swami Muktananda, translator.

Practical Spirituality – Seeds.

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion.

When you enter into it take with you your all.”

Kahlil Gibran
Poet, Essayist, Novelist and Symbolist Painter. 1883-1931

In my teens, as many of us did, I read Gibran’s best known work, The Prophet. 

This book helped me a great deal as it showed me that the narrow dogmas I had already rejected as a child were not the only way to approach religion and spirituality.

Gibran was born into a Maronite Christian family but his mysticism is founded in a convergence of Christianity, Islam, Sufism, Hinduism and Theosophical teachings.

I’ve been down those paths since and many others besides. Gibran’s words still shine in simplicity. I commend his writings to you:

“Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’”

Knowselfspirit – the anchor – being a ‘realist’ in non-duality

When we talk about what we can do in transforming our perceptions and finding ourselves, about spiritual awakening, what are the traditional routes? Through working on ourselves to improve our health, centre ourself,  to calm the mind and let go of the thousands of disturbances it throws into the mix every day.  We approach this lofty goal through various practices: through meditation, studying, yoga, contemplation, and seeking the company of people who appear to be on a path to ‘enlightenment’ – satsang.

Many of us wish for a sudden shift in consciousness – a sudden dawning of enlightenment, but most of us experience setbacks in our quest for the inner peace which is only a precursor of the state of knowledge and being that we have long desired.

The realisation which we seek is really far more accessible than this. For many hours of meditation and other inward looking practices leave one sensitive and unable to handle the sensory overload that we experience on a day-to-day basis.  If we are to do this deep inner work, we must also develop strength and resiliance so that our new light does not waver in the wind, does not leave us raw and vulnerable, but strengthens and supports us as we make our way in the world as we must.

Non-duality

When we find the point where we start to see and experience actualisation or nonduality, our identification with the ego or body starts to loosen and alternate visions of our being make their way into our concious mind, but also into the other parts of our knowing mind that are not at the front of conscious understanding.

As individuated beings we are in the grip of life – it’s realities and it’s illusions. If we seek for self-improvement of any kind our lives and relationships, responsibilities and activities must continue – often there will be very little outward change. Actions and interactions change. If you start to actually realise the fullness of self-hood and the humility of oneness it cannot help but change your potentials for interaction. Gradually you begin to behave differently.  This throws up challenges of it’s own. Those closest to you will be puzzled or disconcerted by the outward changes in your behaviour and may feel that they don’t know you as well as they did.  You may be acting from a point of  view where you are less involved in and less concerned about these interpersonal connections. Does this picture make sense?

The sense of freedom that you experience when you start to experience non-duality can lead you away from the desired state. It can compromise your connectivity – with others, significant others in your embodied and individuated life. Is becoming more impersonal the goal of all the work that you have done?

The world may look like an illusion from this point of view, even though you still live in it and daily experience it’s rhythms, ebbs and flows, interdependencies and interactions.  This too, is real.  It is not an illusion. If you are truly aware of the oneness of being you will know that every being and every thing in the material world has it’s reality in the deeper connectivity that we glimpse through yogic practices.

You can be conscious of the truth of oneness without abandoning our worldly ‘reality’, instead transforming it through mindful, aware, actions and interactions.

We all have the inner power and resouces to see beyond the egocentric understanding of ourselves in the world and to reach a sublime state of understanding of our intrinsic connectedness to each other.  This can bring into our lives and sphere of influence a great deal of peace, happiness, comfort and directedness.  The purpose of this blog is to share some insights with you and to assist you to find that state of understanding where we can rise above these challenges without losing contact with the purposes of our life.

When we realise who we really are, it makes sense that we don’t experience that alone or keep it to ourselves, we feel very deeply that there’s a necessity to do something with that. The whole point of knowing we are ONE is to use that knowledge. I’ll be exploring this more in future posts.

In all things, Love.

Introducing myself.

.
Just an introduction

Unlike many, I have very clear memories of childhood (and later life). My recollections are detailed and multi-sensory. I have come to understand that this is a rare thing, that many people have only fleeting memories of their childhood and early life.

Born and raised in a beach side suburb, I was a gentle, contemplative child with a placid temperament. I learnt to read by the time I was four, so my early years at school were not very challenging, and I spent a lot of time daydreaming in class, or reading a book under the desk when I was supposed to be doing something else. I was plagued by severe asthma as a child, and spent a lot of time off school, at home with my mother, reading, sitting contemplating, and meditating when moved to do so.

I had learned to meditate at the age of six, initiating this practice in response to a brief article in a British children’s magazine which pictured a Swami sitting in the ‘lotus position’, (padmāsana), and a brief ‘who, where, what’ description of the swami and his meditation upon the syllable ‘Om’.  I immediately tried this, and found that I could sit in the lotus seat with no problem.  I then began to meditate, by sitting in lotus seat and focussing on the voiced, and then silent, repetition of ‘Om’.

Serendipitously, that same year I was taught to do diaphragmatic breathing by a physiotherapist who was an old friend of my mother’s. Bette was also involved in Hatha Yoga, and though I had no knowledge of that at the time, I do remember that she was complimentary about how rapidly I learnt the diaphragm breathing techniques she taught me.

I had not much notion of what I was doing, or any conscious purpose or awareness that meditation was a very significant practice. I was simply attracted to it and meditated whenever I felt the impulse to do so.  So my practice was intermittent, though I did regularly return to it and meditate at least daily for long periods of time.

After we moved house for the third time in our idyllic seaside town, my health worsened significantly. I spent my nights up battling the asthma. I was pathetically thin and always struggling to breathe. Any exertion triggered worse asthma. It was decided mountain air would be good for me. After testing this theory with a couple of mountain holidays, it was decided, and we moved to a small town in the mountains when I was 9 years old. It worked, I got up to normal weight and started to enjoy much improved health and mobility.

As I got older, I experienced some strange and interesting phenomena as a result of my meditation practice, and had a growing awareness of my own interior being and of the dimensions beyond material existence. I remember the evening of my tenth birthday, I stood outside under an apple tree and made some serious vows to myself, about my ethics and conduct in the world. I have kept those vows.

Without understanding the connection, I also developed an interest in, and attraction to, all things Indian. In my final year of primary school, at age 12, we were given a free choice of a final project to complete before going on to High School the following year. I chose India as my topic. My father organised for a friend to obtain many brochures and booklets from Air India for me to use as a resource. They contained very interesting and attractive pictures of India, but were a little short on information. The final product wasn’t the best work, I was grappling with trying to reconcile patchy information on thousands of years of history, so many languages, and various spiritual traditions. At this point, my father went to a bookshop and asked for something more in depth about India. The sales assistant very helpfully suggested the Penguin edition of Upanishads in translation, by Juan Mascaro. This book set me on this life course.  I started to learn about the possible traditions of my Swami from 6 years before, and my fascination deepened. This book lit a fire in my mind and life.

Approximately 1 month before my 14th birthday, I suffered a very severe acute asthma attack. The usal treatments did not work so I was taken by ambulance to the emergency department of a large hospital 20 miles away. I was in a bad way when I arrived, barely able to breathe at all. I do not remember arriving there, I came to in a large room lined with beds. It was late on a Sunday night, and inexplicably the emergency ward was empty of other patients. I had an intravenous drip in my arm and an oxygen mask over my face. There was an old man polishing the floors down the far end of the room, with one of those huge electric polishing machines with rotating pads. I was aware that my breathing was worsening again. The old cleaner came up to my bed, and asked me something in words iI could not make sense of. He had bright sparkling brown eyes that overflowed with kindness and compassion. I drifted into unconsciousness.

I was now floating about 20 feet above a bed, where a thin brown body was lying, for all the world like an empty cicada shell. I looked and saw that it was me. There were a couple of doctors and nurses at either side of the bed. Away from that body, I was being held in the purest most blissful state, by the most amazing loving being, and I was given a choice, stay in this bliss or return to your body and that life. I knew my mother would need me, so I chose to return to my body. I awoke the following day in physical agony, as of every part of my body had beenstretched and beaten.
I became a student of various traditions of Indian Sanatana Dharma (aka known as ‘Hinduism’) from my early teens.  The next written sources I chanced on were booklets and pamphlets published by the Theosophical Society’s Adyar Publications, including excerpts from key Sanskrit texts, the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, the writings of Krishnamurti and Aurobindo.
After a while other things came my way, and I read voraciously various translations of these principal texts, and many books including Yogananda’s ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’, which led me at age 15, to other yogic texts, including the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali.
In 1970 I moved to Sydney and became a semi-regular at the ISKCON (Hare Krishna) temple. Though I was not attracted to the form of Bhakti Yoga promoted by ISKNON’s Guru, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I resided in the Hereford Street temple’s dormitory for some months in 1973, and attended early morning classes on Sanskrit texts, primarily the Bhagavad Gita, the Isha Upanishad and Shrimad Bhagavatam.
I attempted to study Sanskrit by myself for several years before I had the opportunities to study Sanskrit with Mr Alan Treloar at the University of New England 1975 and 1979, and Professor Godfrey Tanner at Newcastle University 1980-1981.

The two professors I was originally taught by are both now deceased so I will do not want to malign their reputations, but both had been taught in British Universities, and both carried forward the constructs of western cultural imperialism. At the time of commencing my studies I had been studying Sanskrit texts for more than a decade. I had read Upanishads from age 12 in translation, the penguin edition by Juan Mascaro.
I read some of Aurobindo’s work at age 14 and at age 17 I began decoding what I could from some helpful books, some of which included transliteration, word for word translations, glossaries etc.
In my four years of academic study, I studied and did translations of several Vedic hymns, a few of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the texts in Lanman’s reader etc.

The textbooks used by my professors were 80 – 100 years old, by European indologists. These professors espoused ideas about India, Hinduism and Sanskrit which I recognised as ethnocentric and Eurocentric, based on slight knowledge and poor understanding of other academic disciplines. Frankly, I found many of their theories very half baked and their conclusions rather ridiculous, certainly not in accord with what I had gleaned from the texts and commentaries I had studied.

 

#Sanskrit
#meditation
#yogasutras
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#Atman
#AdvaitaVedanta
#tantra
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#yama
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