Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi
  AHYMSIN Newsletter, Issue - December 2013  

Lecture #9

by Swami Veda Bharati

Swami Rama glancing rightwards

March 8, 2013
at the 2013 Sangha Gathering at SRSG

Gurave namaḥ.
Parama-gurave namaḥ.
Parameṣhṭhi-gurave namaḥ. 
Paramparā-gurubhyo namaḥ.

Akhaṇḍa-maṇḍalākaraṁ vyāptaṁ yena charācharam.
Tat padaṁ darshitaṁ yena tasmai shrī-gurave namaḥ.
Hiraṇya-garbhād ārabdhām śheṣha-vyāsādi-madhyamām.
Svāmi-śhrī-rāma-pādāntāṁ vande guru-paramparām.

Om tat sat brahmārpaṇam astu.

Om śham.

Today is the last session on this topic. Tomorrow we’ll be talking about your next five years plan.

Allow me to welcome my special sister, Professor Bettina [Bäumer], Sharada. I wish we had reserved a space here for her to speak. You do not know how honored I feel by her presence. You should be sitting over here. If you just saw a catalogue of her books, that would run into ten pages – big, massive volumes that both the academicians and the sadhakas read, especially on Kashmir Shaivism. Born in Austria, she spends her time teaching at her institute in Varanasi, and then she has a secret hideout and hour and a half’s drive from here up in the mountains, and when you go there, she’s in total silence. And I would like to hear her say something about the practice of silence and solitude. Let us see if she can do that, maybe after the music performance tonight. Maybe for ten or fifteen minutes? People need to benefit from you. Yes? I’m going to say yes on your behalf; I don’t care; I’m your brother. (Laughter)

So, I will try to cover as much as I can on the rest that remains to be said on this topic of “Stations of Progress in Spirituality and in Meditation.” We have covered a lot of ground, but since the time is short here now, I will have to have to be very brief and just give you notes. And when the written form comes out, it will be much more complete. You can keep a lookout for that.

Some of the experiences that I have spoken about have been practices based on those experiences. For example, I spoke of a feeling of expansion of space. Now, please understand that method and inner awakening are interdependent. All the methods have been designed from the internal experiences of the yogis. And for those who are not at that level, they start with the method. The yogi experiences it directly.

For example, the Om Kriya practice that Swami Ma Radha teaches, that she learned from the master and that involves this expansion of space, teaches you how to expand that space and go into the infinite space. For the time being you will do it as a method; later it will become your awareness.

The same applies to the questions relating to the opening of the chakras; what the yogis experienced, from that they created the methods. I have explained this in my book Philosophy of Hatha Yoga.

For us, we start with the methods, but let us hope, let us pray, let us aspire, let us be ambitious – let me be very plain and frank – let us be sadhakas. To reach a point where you don’t need a method, and you know where the switches are to trigger that state of consciousness, and you just turn on those switches and you are at that level – whichever level you want to be at, from where you want to go further inside, or from where you want to teach. Only then are you a teacher – not because you are getting a teaching certificate.

As your meditation progresses, the bodily discomforts will begin to be switched off. They will become faint, and then fainter, and then you will not be aware of them. You will not be aware of the sounds around you, or the sounds that seemingly are coming, very faintly, from a great distance.

You will learn the art of the Naqshbandi school of Sufis called khalwat dar anjuman, “solitude in a crowd.” There are people who sometimes tell me, “I can’t meditate in a group.” Where is the group? I don’t see a group. This is the place; there is one place, the place that your body is occupying in the meditation hall. Where is the group? I don’t know what group you are talking about. So, khalwat dar anjuman, the Sufi doctrine – I love it: “solitude in a crowd.” So you will sit in the middle of a rock band playing, and if you choose to turn on your meditation, you will turn your meditation.

First you will begin to have the faintness and disappearance of physical pains during meditation. Later, as you develop further, your pains will no longer bother you. The pain will still be there, the symptoms will still be there, but you will not respond to them because you will have learned the art of what I have been saying for the past forty years: “Do not make body conditions into mind conditions.” Do you know that sūtra? Every doctor needs to teach that to the patients. And then you will learn the art of not making body conditions into the mind conditions, so the physical conditions will no longer trigger the pain centers of the brain to that extent.

My master had a tumor two-thirds of size of a tennis ball taken out of his hip without any anesthesia. One of the mantra initiators here has gone through the sinus surgery of a deviated septum without any anesthesia; she just took my relaxation cassette with her and listened to it during the surgery.

Wait for the book that Dr. Dixit is editing based on the seminar we had four years ago on Meditation for Pain Management. And Dr. Tacson Fernandez is adding his chapter to that book. Dr. Tacson is a pain management expert.

As you progress in your meditation, you will have less need of frequent food intake. You will not eat because of craving; you will eat for the need. The Ayurvedic texts say, “Take your food as medicine.” You take the right amount of food, like the right dosage of medicine, the right nutrients and so on. So the need for eating, eating, eating will disappear. And remember that the lesser of the frequency of any pleasure the greater the intensity of the pleasure – if indulged in with patience and selfless love.

With this, your need for sleep will also become less. Actually you will learn the art of sleeping. You will learn the art of using your sleep by simultaneously sleeping with meditation going on. You will learn the art of meditation going on during sleep. So with less sleep and more meditation you will have a greater awakening of energies. It’s not going to happen tonight or tomorrow night. Be a sādhaka. Practice.

There will come in you positive urges, like the urge to give. You will not feel the resistance to giving that you often feel. You will want to give. You will stand before a display window of a store with beautiful objects, and when you look at the beautiful objects, your first reaction will be: “Now to whom can I give this?” Not “How can I get it for myself?” You will think: “That is a beautiful object. To whom can I give this?” These urges will arise in you naturally.

When I speak of giving, by the way, I am not only speaking of objects, but also the giving of love. There will remain in you the urge to give selfless love. When you give selfless love, you are not hurt when the love is not returned and love is betrayed. “I gave him so much attention and I received no thanks.” That’s not love. Did you sign a contract with him that if you give attention to him five times a day, then he will thank you ten times a day? What kind of loving is that? There is an urge for giving. There is an urge for loving. And you love for that sacred urge in you. Many people love in anticipation of being loved, but as I said to you before: one whose heart center has opened or is opening to a certain degree becomes emotionally independent and no longer has emotional dependence on others, has no need of receiving; his satisfaction is in giving.  And people will know that yours is a selfless love. That love is universal; it is for all living beings in the whole universe. You know what the vow of a Bodhisattva is:

“I shall not fear, I shall not step back, I shall not retract, not until all living beings from a blade of grass to the cosmic Brahma have been liberated, not until then shall I enter nirvana.”

That is the vow of a Bodhisattva. There is downstairs in the hallway next to the Meditation Hall a number of statues. One of the statues is of Bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha, whose vow it was to stay in hell until all living beings stopped coming to hell. That is called loving. I can tell you quite a few stories on that theme.

So, along with that comes the natural inclination to ahimsa. Here up I will take up a small point of belief. I was walking with one of our initiates in Taiwan. In the Chinese culture they have certain vegetarian days for the practicing Buddhist, especially the full-moon days. And we were just talking about vegetarianism, and I mentioned in passing that people in the West do not believe that living beings other than humans have souls, and she said, “That’s strange.” And that thought is strange to three billion people on this earth.

People in the West have difficulty accepting that all living beings have souls, but as your meditation grows, your realization of this universal soul and its sparks in the bodies of all living beings will become real to you, and, therefore, ahimsa will come, non-violence towards all living beings. Sarvathā sarvadā sarva-bhutānām an-abhidrohoḥahiṁsā. The definition of ahimsa: “in all possible manners, at all times, towards all beings.” Absence of the inclination to cause any hurt or pain is called ahimsa. So as your meditation grows – even if you have not read the arguments on vegetarianism – and you don’t need to read the arguments about the health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle or how a vegetarian lifestyle will save the grain situation of this planet earth – not because of those arguments, but because of a natural inclination to ahimsa you will gradually become a vegetarian if you are not a vegetarian. You will. I’m not saying that you should. I’m not saying that you must become a vegetarian; but if you are making meditational progress you can’t help it; the inclination will change. You will feel the effects of meat and such things on your mind, and you will not want those effects. These things will happen to you naturally as part of your growth.

There are other benefits to the practice of meditation – your memory improves, for example – but you don’t do meditation for that purpose. People write me letters and say, “I want to learn your art of how to learn languages through yoga-nidra.” I say to them, “I don’t teach that.” I did not learn yoga-nidra so that I could learn Italian. I could open a very nice school in New York City and become a millionaire by teaching this “art,” but being a stupid idiot, it never occurred to me except as a joke. Now imagine if I could have people just lie down there and learn languages; everybody would want to come. How much should I charge for one famous course? What are people making of yoga and meditation. My God, what are you people doing? Is that why Patañjali wrote? Is that why the rshis of the Himalayas sat in their forest academies? Is that why the yogis of the Himalayas have sat in their caves for decades and lifetimes at a time? Is that why the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree for forty-nine days and forty-nine nights without any movement, in total stillness – so that his followers could open schools in New York and become rich? So please change your attitudes to yoga and meditation and spread this word in the yoga circles.

As you progress, your inclination to silence will increase. You will want to do silence. You see, all these stations of spiritual progress that I have talked about, they happen to you effortlessly if you practice meditation seriously. But your meditation will remain full of disturbances if you do not practice all these other things in your daily life. If you practice all these things in your daily life, your meditation will become easier, and your meditation will feed back into your daily life. Okay?

So do some contemplation. Take the recordings of these lectures, and wait for the book whenever it comes out, and listen to each point and see how you can absorb. Don’t say, “Oh my God, it’s so much! There are so many things to do. I give up.” It’s like somebody trying to learn how to drive a car: “What? I have to remember about the clutch? I have to learn about the brake? I have to remember to do the steering? I have to remember to look outside, back and front? I have to remember about the accelerator? I have to remember about the turn signals I give? There are too many things to remember.” You will never learn to drive a car if you think like this. Imagine how many things a pilot has to learn to fly you safely in an airplane. You do them all slowly, slowly, slowly, and they become integrated, and they become part of your natural habits, your natural inclination. You don’t think twice about all the techniques about driving a car. You had to learn all the techniques, but now they have become assimilated.

So these things will become assimilated into your life and there will be a natural tendency to silence. You will want to be silent. And you will first put aside half a day of silence a week during which there are no phone calls, no TV. You have heard of this wonderful Nyepi Day in Bali island. Once a year the whole island goes silent. No cars on the road. No bicycles. No pedestrians. The Ngurah Rai International Airport is closed from 6:00 am to 6:00 am the next day. No TV, preferably no lights, possibly no cooking, just simple food, with just a day of 24 hours of silence and contemplation. How would it be if all the world’s nation’s leaders gathered sometime, somewhere, like in Washington D.C. or Moscow, or Beijing or Dehli and had a 24-hour silence of this kind together? Do you think it would have an effect? Then they could negotiate after that.  

So what I am saying is, let these become your natural inclinations. As you write your spiritual journals, you can choose, as you like: “I’ll work on these things or I’ll work on these four things for the next year. And that will be my New Year’s resolution.” Now these new habits have another habit: they never come alone; they bring along other habits. So if you pick up one or two or three of these new habits, all the associated habits will say, “Hey, you cannot go alone; I’m coming with you.” So other habits will change along with the first ones you have chosen.

When you start practicing ahimsa, for example, you will also want to experiment with food that is more sattvic, and speech that is more sattvic. With that will come relationships that are more sattvic.

I have told you this before, but long ago, maybe eight years back, in a silence retreat at The Meditation Center in Minneapolis, I gave a very simple practice. I said, “Go buy yourself a diary, and every day write one pleasant thing that happened.” You saw one beautiful bird; okay, write about that. Or someone spoke to you very gently and lovingly; write that down. Our Vice-president emeritus, David Hume, came to this ashram some years after I suggested that. And I was driving to Delhi and he was returning by way of Delhi and we were sitting in a coffee shop at Hyatt Regency having coffee or tea or whatever, and he said, “Swamiji, I have a gift for you.” “Oh my God,” I thought, “he is always giving me gifts; what gift does he have this time?” So he had these three beautifully-bound volumes for his three years of each day writing of a beautiful happening. I treasure it. I still have those volumes. Nobody has ever given me that kind of gift. Now, you can imagine 365 times 3, whatever it is, a thousand or so beautiful thoughts, how they would affect your communication, how they would affect your other emotions. Having written that beautiful thought, when you go lie down to sleep, what will be the mood you will have, and what kind of dreams will you have?

Also, as you make spiritual progress the quality of your dreams changes, but I have said enough. I have given you quite a bit to work on, to aspire for, to be ambitious about. When I open my mouth again on February 14th, 2018, after five years of silence, I will give some more teaching for one year. Maybe one year, maybe less, maybe more, I don’t know. In the meantime, the teaching will come in other forms. Alright.

And that one habit of what? The forehead. Can’t you do one thing for me? I know you love me and you love my master. Can’t you do one small thing; just keep your forehead relaxed? And the other one: every two or three hours, take two or three minutes of breath awareness, wherever you are – as you are here now in this hall — alone in absolute solitude. You are the only one in the hall. There is no one else sitting where you are sitting, so you are in absolute solitude.

Relax your forehead. Feel the flow and the touch of your breath in your nostrils . . . breathing, slowly, gently, smoothly with no break between the breaths… with your mantra exhaling and inhaling . . . . Maintain the flow…. Without breaking the flow, gently open your eyes. God Bless You all.

This little book, Sadhana in Applied Spirituality, if you have not had time to read it, read the last two chapters before tomorrow. God bless you.

Editor's note:

The Signs of Progress in Spirituality and in Meditation: During the 2013 Sangha Gathering, Ahymsin Publishers recorded Swami Veda’s lectures to help those on a spiritual path recognize the signs of progress. He also gave cautions and 'pitfalls' to watch out as one navigates their practice. This 9 part series is now available and is invaluable for all seekers wishing to enjoy the guidance of Swami Veda Bharati over the next years as he shifts deeper and deeper into silence. Contact AHYMSIN Publishers at ahymsinpublishers@gmail.com

Professor Bettina [Bäumer], Sharada, will be teaching a seminar on Vijñāna Bhairava 17th – 26th October 2014 at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh, India. Please see: http://ahymsin.org/main/srsg-ashram/vijnana-bhairava-teaching-17th-26th-october-2014.html

Sadhana in Applied Spirituality by Swami Veda Bharati can be found at this link: http://ahymsin.org/main/swami-veda-bharati/sadhana-in-applied-spirituality.html

The Signs of Progress in Spirituality and in Meditation: During the 2013 Sangha Gathering, Ahymsin Publishers recorded Swami Veda’s lectures to help those on a spiritual path recognize the signs of progress. He also gave cautions and 'pitfalls' to watch out as one navigates their practice. This 9 part series is now available and is invaluable for all seekers wishing to enjoy the guidance of Swami Veda Bharati over the next years as he shifts deeper and deeper into silence. Contact AHYMSIN Publishers at ahymsinpublishers@gmail.com

To read transcripts of the previous Swami Veda talks in this series, please click on a title below: