Published: 5 March 2023 | Written by Pt Priyadarshan (Pierre Lefebvre)
You know, I come from Canada. And where I’m from, to drive a car, you have to do a very formal course. It’s a 13-month course. It might be the same in your countries also, but it’s not the same all over the world. So you have 2 parts in your driving course. You have the theory. And you have the practice. So, where I’m from you have 5 sessions of theory for total of 10 hours, where you learn the functioning of car, where is the steering wheel, what is the gas valve, break paddle, the road signs, the rules and regulation, etiquette, etc. You know where the priority is, is not, etc. And then, you have the practice where you actually sit in the car, and practice driving.
Now, in our path, in the path of yoga, in the path of spirituality, it functions a little bit in the same way as learning to drive a car. Yoga, as a system, goes in pair with the system of philosophy that is called sāṁkhya. And don’t worry we will not go in the details sāṁkhya philosophy here. I will not bore you with that today, but they go together. Swami Veda repeated numerous times that you cannot understand the Yoga Sutras if you don’t have a firm ground in the teachings of sāṁkhya philosophy. So sāṁkhya philosophy is the philosophical framework, the theoretical system, as in the theory of driving a car. And yoga is its practical application. Same as when your theory is well understood, you then actually go in the car to practice and learn to drive. So, sāṁkhya, the theory behind the yoga system, that is the darśana śāstra, the theoretical system. And then yoga, the application, is the prayoga śāstra, the practical application of that.
And the purpose of that is to light thy own lamp. But actually, the lamp is already lit. The lamp is there. And Swami Veda would say ‘What do you have to gain from yoga practice, what do you have to gain from yoga?’ And he would say ‘Nothing.’ Because it’s already there. The lamp is already lit. We’re just not aware of it.
Imagine you have put 500 dollars or 500 euros at the bottom of the drawer several years ago. And then, you start cleaning the drawer, and you “discover”, you remove the cover, “discover what was covered”, what was hidden, you discover and you find the 500 euros or 500 dollars. Are you richer than you were before. No, it was already there. So, they say, the great sages and yogis say we are all in samādhi all the time, we are just not aware of it… I’m certainly not aware of it! So, you’re not gaining anything, you remove what’s in between, so you can discover. And that’s the path that we are on. Some people more advanced, other people like me which have more covers, more things to clean out.
Going back to car driving. Swami Veda had a joke. And he was asking the question, what is the difference between the path of haṭha yoga and the path of meditation. Haṭha yoga is like an old 19th century car. How did we, in our previous lives when we were in the 19th century, start the car? With the old cars, you had to go out, and then you cranked it. And you cranked it, and you cranked it until it lights up, until it ignites. You all know that the words ignite and ignition comes from Sanskrit word agni, fire.
So haṭha yoga is an old 19th century car. You have to crank the body, crank the body, crank the body to get it started. Meditation is like a new 21st century car. You don’t go out, you go in. You go in and sit in, and you just turn the ignition key, and it starts. Nowadays even there is no more keys, it’s a button. The purpose is the same. Do you go out? Do you go through the external sheets, external kośas to start, to start to light up the mind. Lighting up the mind means making the mind turn inwards. Or do you just go in and sit and directly press the button. Both have the same purpose.
If you remember Swami Veda’s book Philosophy of Hath Yoga, in the preface Swami ji says “all yoga science is just one.” All these sub-systems like haṭha yoga, laya yoga, mantra yoga etc., they are all part of that big science. And they are there to address different individuals, different sādhakas at different levels of their practice, of their progress. So, haṭha yoga, dhyāna yoga, they have this same purpose to go in, to go to that light. What Ashu ji said yesterday, the point finding the center, or the point is the center. The point cannot be anything else but the center.
There were wonderful questions about mantras, the other day to the panel of initiators, and I remember, it just made me remember a story. I had, and I don’t know why, I don’t know what I did to deserve that, it was probably that I did something good in previous lives, because I cannot recall anything that I have done in this life that made me worth of being so close to Swami Veda. So, it’s probably from the previous lives. And very early on, he took me close to him and I remember. I had been here in the Gurukulam, for I think a week or 10 days, and we had some seniors of the tradition coming to visit here at the ashram and visit Swami Veda. I was passing by as Swami Veda was giving them a tour of the main building. And then, he called me, he was with these very senior Swami Rama disciples and he called me, and introduced me to them, ‘this is Pierre, he’s our most brilliant student.’ And I thought ‘I have been here for a week.’ I think he’s confusing me with somebody else. So, I don’t know what I did to deserve that.
Like Ashu ji talked about spending time with Swami Veda. He was there at the time of Sādhanā Mandir which was very special time as everybody were very close to Swami Veda in his kutia. In the Sādhaka Grama period, we were all envious of the Sādhanā Mandir people who were so close in that little cottage all together. But, as Ashu ji said, we were all at the place where we should be. And we got what we got because that’s what we could get. So, being around Swami Veda was really wonderful. Just to see him, just be around to see how he lived, I learned a lot and I got a lot from the lectures from Swami ji. I got much more, and I’m sure everybody was around him would say the same thing, I got much more from just witnessing his life. And he was the embodiment of that lamp shining on everyone.
If you all go under the one sun on a hot summer day and feel the light and the warmth of the sun. Do you have the feeling that the entire warmth, light and energy of the sun is directed only towards you? When you are under the sun on a hot summer day, you feel that all the power of the sun is directed only towards you. But then, the next person feels the same thing. He also feel that the whole sun is shining only at him.
We felt the same thing with Swami Veda. And I’m sure many people relates. And I’m sure many people who have met Swami Rama in the body will relate to the same. These beings were like the sun. We would feel so special in Swami Veda’s presence. We would always feel that we are the only one in the room, that we are receiving everything, that all his love is directed towards us. But his love was unlimited and his love was not getting less towards us because it was shining towards somebody else as well. We could all received the fullness of the love and care, as well as everybody else. So, they were the source of light, the source of love like the sun.
Yoong ji and I had a little discussion with a few months ago, and Maa Tripurashakti, this morning talked about the same. It was about Swami Veda’s biography and his story with his Guru Swami Rama. He didn’t want anybody to write about him until he would have written about his master. Because he thought that he should not come before his master. And then, he tried to find somebody to help with the writing of the book on his master. But he could not find somebody suitable because all the authors were trying to take Swami Veda as the central part of history with Swami Rama, and Swami Veda didn’t want that. He didn’t want the story to be from the perspective of the person receiving the warmth of the sun. But he wanted his book to be perspective of the sun shining its light.
This is a transcript of a talk held at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, on 15 Feb, 2023, during the AHYMSIN Sangha Gathering 2023.