Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Deepening Meditation Course

by Joanne Sullivan (Divya)

Last spring, Swami Veda sent us all a letter expressing his wishes that initiates continue to deepen their meditations through special courses for initiates at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) with our lead teachers. He spoke with Raghavendra Adiga asking him to lead these programs. The second of those was held from October 4th to 11th. It is as if Raghavendra does very little but just barely lifts the floodgates to let the waters and the open spaces carry us. This past week, it often felt like the Guru taught us, took us up in his lap— took us inside—in ways that felt quite familiar to some of us. It was in this way that Raghavendra let the sacred path itself teach us.

Raghavendra is a mantra initiator. Sometimes a practice just coagulates, becomes very clear and real. The tension-relaxation exercise, for example, was a deep meditation and one longtime initiate told me that, for him, it opened up into much more than he had previously known tensing-relaxing to be. I experienced the same. Another example was the tongue lock, just one small practice. But with Raghavendra’s teaching, it now carries a whole new dimension for me. It almost bears the quality of a state of being above and beyond a kriya, though, in fact, it is still just a simple practice. I think that this is because Raghavendra does not talk. He takes you along in his meditation as he talks, but quite naturally.

The group became a close-knit group and Raghavendra’s openness and humility created a milieu that was welcoming and relaxed. There were also handouts of practices we did.

The course was practice-rich, but there was also time for questions. The structure of the course followed the ashram schedule with two 1-hour silent meditations and two hatha classes daily, as well as satsangs of sharing and kirtan.

These in turn were deepened by guided practices with Raghavendra. His lectures were more than lectures. Each was a clear and practical inroad on the map of Patañjali’s classical yoga. The kriyas flowed to us and within us as a living practice.  Question and answer sessions clarified not only the practices we were doing but also questions we had regarding our own meditations and related issues.

Mindfulness, compassion and his willingness to listen enhance his ways of teaching. He also inspired us in strengthening a sankalpa, a resolve, and about pratyahara, withdrawal from the senses ---- keeping a focus during meditation.

One student asked “How can I meditate on an airplane with the constant interruptions?!”

He said that we can choose what we listen to. “There are always interruptions,” he said. “I used to live on the main thoroughfare of town, near the intersection of heavy traffic, honking horns and the train station not 200 meters away, all engines and whistles blowing. It just takes a decision.”

The lineage, the stream we stand in, continues. The past, present and future of this sacred stream is nothing less than a vessel that holds us.

Regarding meditation, Raghavendra spoke about how one’s experience of mantra is not static, that it changes with time, revealing more and more layers all the way to the subtle experiences of the sages who did their individual research, to the experience of the deep origin of a particular mantra.

Raghavendra’s teaching reveals a depth of practice but also a breadth of knowledge of ancient texts. The Mundaka Upanishad, he said, reveals that all the sounds of rivers as well as of the Sanskrit alphabet are God.  He added that the Shvetashvatara Upanishad speaks of the secret indweller, that God is found by the seer within the deep states of meditation. This text also speaks of the purpose of existence and of a human birth.

Swami Rama often posed the questions “Why have you come and where are you going?” This course stayed true to such questions. We practiced Shitali Karana, 61 points, tension-relaxation and other kriyas. He touched on inner dialogue which Swami Rama discussed in Path of Fire and Light. Application of equal and opposite thought as an antidote to obstacles and other practices in the Yoga Sutras came alive. He talked about creating a sacred atmosphere that is meaningful to us in our homes. He also  encouraged us to keep a fixed meditation time in addition to frequent sittings.

Diary entry from the course:

Making breakfast, chanting. Both Swami Veda and Swami Rama taught us that food was alive and carried the vibrations we put into it when we cooked. In Swami Rama’s day at the Himalayan Institute, there was mostly silence or some quiet chanting in the kitchen. Chatter was not permitted around the preparation of food. Those who cooked were meditators. The food was imbued with mantra. This morning, one chant from Swami Rama days filled me:

Jaya guru deva jaya, Jaya guru deva jaya, Jaya guru deva jaya, satya guru deva jaya.
Victory to the guru! Victory to truth!

Raghavendra crossed my mind. I believe that he is someone who wholeheartedly, with sankalpa renewed again and again, dedicates his life to the highest. Beyond the qualities of the man, stands the all-embracing guru presence because he is someone who has learned to stand aside. He genuinely tries to let the presence of the guru speak. He is not in the least self-aggrandizing. There is often a hint of a smile in his replies to questions.

I look forward to his next courses for initiates here at SRSG in 2016 from April 10th – 17th and October 9th to 16th.

[Pictures courtesy of Jay  Prakash Bahuguna and Nina Pulaska]


Editor’s Note:

Raghavendra Adiga will be teaching the program for initiates 20th – 17th April 2016 and 9th – 16th October 2016 at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama; please see http://ahymsin.org/main/ashram/initiate-programs.html

Books by Swami Rama include:

Swami Rama can be heard lecturing on the Mundaka Upanishad at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9E36C9BAFF71751C

A book by Swami Veda:

Subtler than the Subtle, The Upanishad of the White Horse (Shvetashvatara Upanishad)




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