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Six Virtues of a Spiritual Seeker

Six Virtues of a Spiritual Seeker

Satsang by swami Sitaramananda at the Yoga Farm Aug.31, 2021

Tue, 8/31 4:09PM • 56:52

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

Control of mind, spiritual teacher, pain, peace, spiritual practice, self-realization, faith, yoga, meditation, Vedanta, swami, means for liberation, Self-Knowledge, atman, Truth, balance, emotions, Yoga philosophy teaching, wisdom, life, realize Self, faith, endurance, inwards turning, serenity, calmness, self-control, self-enquiry, detachment, spiritual discrimination,

Qualifications of a Seeker

We have said how discrimination is the most important qualification to have, i.e., to know the difference between the Self and not-Self. The problem is that we get confused between the Self and the not-Self. In fact, the association of the Atman (the true Self) with the mind makes us think that we are the mind. Whatever the mind thinks, you think you are. This is a big problem, the biggest problem. That is why discrimination is the most important qualification.

You need to observe or detach from what you are thinking. In fact, your past thoughts are the origin of your current life. This life, what you experience today, is the karmic result of what you were thinking in the past. Detachment from your thoughts is how you begin to work your way out of samsara, to not repeat the same mistake, the same pattern of thinking that brought you here in the first place, that brought you suffering. That is why these are the qualifications for liberation—liberation from suffering. In other words, these qualifications create the conditions for you to realize that state of happiness and fullness that you already are.

Number one, you have to discriminate. This is my mind and this is the Self. It is extremely difficult to do this, because for years and years, lifetimes and lifetimes, you have thought that you are the mind. You need to accumulate a lot of sattva, purity, for this realization to dawn in you, “Oh, it’s my mind”. Consequently, you have been observing the patterns of your mind for a long time. You have to disassociate from the mind. That is part of the meditation practice when you detach from the mind.

This talk is about Shad-sampat: the sixfold virtues, the six qualifications of the mind that you can acquire.

The idea is that you are already the Self, Satchitananda, nature. In fact, you cannot get the happiness that you seek from outside. You cannot improve yourself from outside. The mind cannot improve itself by itself. In reality, it’s about making the mind more sattvic for it to reflect the Self. The journey is about cleansing the mind, taking care of the mind, so that you can see the Self that is already there.

You will be endowed with these six qualities when you practice yoga. Yoga is the technique to help you to get these qualities for your mind to see the Self.

1. SAMA – tranquility

Sama means tranquility, tranquility of the mind. It is the first virtue that you should get. As a yoga teacher, you encounter students who are very, very restless, changing up and down. What then, does the yoga teacher or Yoga Health Educator tell these people to do? If a person comes to you and he/she is very much up and down, what do you tell them to do? Meditation and self-enquiry? These are very high goals. They need to do something before that. The answer is they need to do asana and pranayama. That’s all it is. Why? When they do asana, they slow down. Everything slows down. They coordinate the body, the breath, and everything slows down. With pranayama, it is the same. They slow down. They purify the nadis and the prana becomes more balanced. Already that allows them to have some insight, to have some vision, some kind of knowledge about the workings of their own mind. This brings them a little bit of peace, a little bit of serenity. Moreover, the classical bhakti yoga teaching gives them techniques for controlling the emotions. The mind is stirred up and made unsteady by the emotions. That’s why controlling the emotions, sublimating the emotions, is necessary to calm the mind down.

When they do asana, they slow down. Everything slows down.

Our actions are based on our thinking, but our thinking is being motivated by the emotions. Our reasoning is employed to simply justify the emotions. Swami Sivananda said the emotions are predominant in this era. The practice of pranayama helps to calm the emotions and number two, you need to chant to express the Divine Love. Practicing love in bhakti yoga means to practice unconditional love and not to practice attachment. When you practice unconditional love, you calm down, the mind calms down. That’s all it is. When the mind calms down, you are able to see your Self. Bhakti yoga practice helps you to do that. Because we are here separated from our source, separated from ourselves, separated from our true nature, we feel lonely, we feel abandoned and in the dark, separated from Divine Mother and separated from Divine Father; we feel separated from everything, and we have to live with people that we don’t understand. Therefore, it is very difficult to love them. So then, practice tranquility, peace of mind. Some people look like they are calm, but inside they are like a tornado. However, when you practice tranquility, the mind is truly quiet. The churning of the mind needs to settle for you to rest in peace.  

Patanjali Maharishi says very clearly in the Raja Yoga sutras, it’s impossible for a mind to understand a mind; it is impossible for the mind to understand itself. No matter how many thoughts you churn in the mind, it is not going to solve the problem that you have in mind. It is literally impossible for you to use your mind to comprehend somebody else’s mind. In Vietnamese there is an expression, “One talks duck, one talks chicken”. Ducks and chickens talking to each other. It’s not possible to understand each other. That’s why we have so much interpersonal conflict because the mind is already so difficult for you to understand. Then you use that mind to understand somebody else’s mind and it’s impossible. That’s why you need to turn inward to understand your own mind. By calming your own mind and by bringing light to your own mind, you will be able to see another person’s mind. This seeing is not because you are able to see another person’s mind from your mind. It is the light of the Atman shining in your mind that allows you to see the Atman in the other person’s mind.

You have to first work on your own peace. Without that, there is no way you can see the Self, no way you can be happy, truly happy. Swamiji said, “Instead of peace of mind, we have pieces of mind”. This means, you project the conditions for you to be happy, you get the conditions fulfilled and you have a little glimpse of peace. You work very hard to get those conditions fulfilled to have another little piece of peace. And then again, you carry on, work out another contract, fulfill that, and earn another little piece of peace. In this way, we have pieces of mind, but we don’t have peace of mind. Because peace of mind has to come with wisdom, with a certain level of freedom, a certain level of unconditional comfort within yourself and in all situations.

That’s why we have so much interpersonal conflict because the mind is already so difficult for you to understand.

If you watch your life all the time, seeing if it fits your pre-set conditions, always being on the defensive, you will not have peace of mind. That is the unfortunate situation for most of us. It’s very difficult to let down our guard and very difficult for us to be open because we have been hurt for a long time. And you know, we wrongly attribute our hurt to someone else. We have been doing this for a very long time, wrongly attributing our hurt to someone else, therefore, carrying that memory and hoping to be free from hurt. But it’s not possible. In the same manner, in the Vedantic analogy of the “rope and snake,” you constantly see the ‘snake’ because the snake is in your mind, you are constantly projecting the idea of the hurtful snake outside, superimposing the snake on a piece of ‘rope’ and say, “Oh, that snake is going to bite me!” Yes, you run away, but you see the snake again. Because it’s in your mind. That’s why you constantly repeat your patterns of unhappiness. So, even though “sama” is the first virtue, it takes a long, long time to get the peace.

2. DAMA: Control of the Senses

Dama means to control the senses. The Vedantic teacher Adi Shankaracharya spelled it out clearly. He says that if you are very disturbed by the senses then you do not have peace of mind. It is something that you can work on. If you have any kind of addiction, any kind of uncontrolled sensual desire, then you are not qualified. That is why you have to go and work very hard on the control of the senses. Why is control of the senses so important? If we have discrimination, we cannot carry on with this idea that life is about sensual enjoyment. We cannot carry on with this idea that whatever we see outside is real. We cannot carry on with the idea that this life of the five senses is the only life, because yoga and Vedanta say “no”, there is an inner life. There is an inner life that we need to explore.

Yes, this life is a projection of your mind and it’s there to distract you. This life of the senses is there to distract you. So, if you can control the senses, you will have fewer distractions, you will be able to turn inward and you will be able to realize your Self.

3. UPARATI: Satiety

Uparati is the goal of turning inward. That means you are able to lead an inner life and you are able to see your Self. You would have to sort yourself out from within, as all answers are from within. If you constantly hanker for something external, you will not be able to turn within.  Uparati is resolutely turning away from the external, so you can sort yourself out from within. It is the control of the senses; it goes with withdrawing of the senses. In yoga, we call it Pratyahara which is the phase before meditation. Basically, you won’t have any success in meditation if you are not able to turn inward.

When you do asanas and pranayama, what happens? You are starting to turn inward. That’s how it works. Because asanas regulate your prana and make you less subject to prana imbalances or subject to the pull of the emotions and the senses. When you start to practice you start to have a glimpse of the Self because you are turning inward. You turn inward when you practice savasana. Now you have a glimpse of this kind of inner peace.

4. TITIKSHA: Endurance

Titiksha is endurance or forbearance. This is very important because you can turn inward and practice meditation or yoga, but you may not see the happiness that is being promised.

On the contrary, you might have back pain, neck pain, or you feel very bored. You don’t know what you’re doing when you start to meditate. That’s why endurance and forbearance is required. You need to stick to the practice at all costs. That’s what the yogi tries to practice in the beginning. Of course, if you have back pain you will have to move a little bit, you don’t torture your body. There must be some moderation, but if you run away from your practice out of any kind of discomfort then you will not have the necessary qualification for you to sort through your mind and to realize your Self. That is why you need to endure the difficulties brought by your own body, your own mind, and emotions.

Scripture says there are different kinds of suffering. Suffering can come from external elements (fires, floods), from the mind and its interaction with other people, and from your own existence in the body which is constantly changing. Pain and discomfort can be moving all the time. Ayurveda says that vata aggravation creates pain. Western medicine cannot understand this because they treat symptoms. Western medicine cannot understand why pain shows up in different places. Someone with this kind of pain most likely has a tendency to worry, and the more he or she worries, the more they create anxiety that leads to more moving pain. They will not have the necessary peace to turn inward. 

There must be some moderation, but if you run away from your practice out of any kind of discomfort then you will not have the necessary qualification for you to sort through your mind and to realize your Self.

You would need to build up your strength and endurance and to “bear insult, bear injury”. Pain can be mental. Someone saying the wrong thing about you is pain; hearing people talk nonsense is pain; eating food that you cannot digest in the body and the mind is painful. Everything can be painful.

Why does the seeker need to learn to endure? The seeker after Truth wants to be free from suffering altogether. The seeker knows the mind’s tendency to go up and down and its condition to react to external things. So, the seeker would endure. To endure means to remember the Self amidst the ups and downs of the mind. The pain is there, but the pains are not new. Therefore, you endure when you have pain, and you remember, “I am the Self”.  

People in the pandemic, when their whole cities and country are in lockdown, are having much pain and difficulty these days. Yet, when I talk to them about Self-remembrance, they thank me for my talk and are not rejecting it as unrealistic. To some level, there is wisdom within them even though they suffer from pain. But to hear someone say, “The pains are not real. You are real. Your immortal Self is real. You are blissful in reality.” They are thankful. Therefore, we have to constantly repeat to ourselves the truth, even though our minds scream the untruth. Forbearance means to remember the truth so that you can bear the karma.

5. SHRADDHA: Faith

We need to cultivate faith. When we lose faith, we feed ourselves with doubts. Some people do not have any faith at all. Most people suffer a lot because they have no faith. For people in difficult situations that have faith, somehow they have a better quality of life, while people who don’t have any faith think that logic can explain everything. When their logic cannot explain things, they think everything is collapsing. In some way, it’s very good that everything is collapsing. This helps you to realize that the intellect is incapable of seeing the big picture.

How do we nurture faith? When we don’t have the answer and you say, “God knows,” you can also say, “I surrender to the wisdom of the universe, there must be a reason why things are like that.” Or you can say, “I have faith that it will work itself out.”

3 Types of Faith

1.  Faith in one’s own Self
Self-reliance, or faith in one’s Self, means we rely on our own inner strength, dwelling within us, as opposed to relying on an ego self. Fear exists when we don’t know the Truth about the Self (the Atman).  Until we have such knowledge of the Self from our own direct experience, we must rely on faith in order to progress in our life.  Ultimately faith is replaced by direct experience of the Self.  Truth or Knowledge can be glimpsed intuitively, even if we do not have a name for it.  SO CALM DOWN AND TRUST YOURSELF.  One student approached me very worried because she had a cough and had just travelled back from England and wondered if she should go to the hospital and be tested.  I told her, “Look within, ask yourself the question, “Am I going to die soon? Am I healthy?” To which she nodded. She regained confidence and overcame her fears by being asked to find the answer from within.

Until we have such knowledge of the Self from our own direct experience, we must rely on faith in order to progress in our life.

The Truth that sets us free from all fears, resides inside of us. It is a long, hard journey to find it.  We must start on that journey with humility and sincerity.  We lack experience in the beginning, as we do not really have a clue where to look when trying to look within.  Faith keeps us going on that journey.

2.  Faith in Nature and the Supreme Intelligence 
Meditate, shift consciousness from the past to the present.  Try to see a bigger picture and channel your emotions into devotion; have the courage to face your illusions. Faith in the Supreme springs from an inner feeling that there is something greater than you, a Supreme being that indwells one’s essential spirit.  When one is enriched with abiding faith, one recognizes Grace operating in all things.  We are on a journey of Self-discovery to uncover the truth of who we are, a journey guided by faith.  We can think of faith as the bridge that carries us from one experience of Grace to the next.

3.  Faith in the teachings and the practices
The sacred teachings say that you are like the Shining Sun untouched by fear and diseases. There are days when clouds fill the sky and we cannot see the sun.  You know the sun is there.  To regain that vision of the inner sun, we must learn to clear away the impurities of the mind by observing the Niyamas (purity, contentment, austerity, Self-study, Self-surrender). Self-surrender means accepting what is; letting go and letting the Divine will prevail. Let it be. Bear the consequences of past actions arising in the present. Have faith that eventually everything will pass. We must also practice endurance and know that the journey is not going to happen overnight. The challenge of enduring past karma is learning not to react or retaliate. Forgive and forget.

To qualify yourself, you need to gather these three conditions: 1) faith in your own true Self that will guide you toward wisdom; 2) faith in Nature and the Supreme Intelligence; 3) and faith in the teachings and the practices. Then keep practicing. If you don’t have complete faith in the teacher, fine, keep practicing and you will get there. Because it is very difficult to understand who the teacher is, but you can practice what you understand from the teaching and eventually you will understand the relationship.  

In case you have doubt, there are many things you can do to lift the doubt. Continue to practice of course, but the easiest thing to do is to keep company (satsanga) with those who have no doubt.

In the beginning, 40 years ago, I had a lot of doubts, because I had a lot of questions. I did not have peace. I had my intellect, my questions, my mind.  My mind was constantly churning, so I always came up with a long list of questions. I had a glimpse of peace when I met Swami Vishnudevananda, so when my mind went into that mode again, I wrote down my list of questions, or I had the list in my mind, and I went to see him. I just arrived at the gate of his residence and all my questions were gone. Yet, I was not even in Swamiji’s wise company.

When my mind went into that mode again, I wrote down my list of questions, or I had the list in my mind, and I went to see him. I just arrived at the gate of his residence and all my questions were gone.

I was uplifted without words and all my questions were gone. The high energy was radiating, so I found some peace. What I learned is that just by being near that high energy, I will find some answer. I didn’t even know what answer it was, because it was not a logical answer, it was not some intellectual answer. The fact is only that I have peace. So, I decided I would try to get karma yoga around Swamiji’s house. I always found some excuse to do karma yoga there. I volunteered to sweep the courtyard, do things around the house, and I didn’t even see Swamiji, I didn’t even have any conversation or ask any kind of question. But I had some calmness, some kind of peace because my mind, my questioning mind calmed down.

How can we dispel doubt? Keep company with those who have no doubt, because they radiate a different kind of energy. As the Atman in you and the Atman in those wise ones are the same, when you enter into the company of those that have realized that they are the Atman, you then have a glimpse of your own Atman. That’s how peace comes to you. That’s all it is.

Sometimes we think the teacher has to do something for you. The teacher is not doing anything for you. The teacher is being themselves. They live their life. They enjoy themselves. They are not a babysitter and they’re not helping anything. They are just being their happy Self. And when you are in their company and they are themselves, you see your Self.

You think that the teacher has to do something? Of course, the teacher also has to work, teach and uplift, and the teaching comes through depending on how ready the students are. I just want to make a point that the transmission of spiritual knowledge depends primarily on the readiness of the student. The comprehension of the greatness of the teacher depends on the greatness of the students. The greatness of the students depends on the greatness of the teacher who was able to help the students to realize him/herself. 

The transmission of spiritual knowledge depends primarily on the readiness of the student.

Swami Sivananda was a medical doctor. Then he became a seeker and a wandering monk, a sadhu. He met with a Sanyasi teacher who gave him initiation into Sannyas. He practiced serious meditation for seven years in his little meditation kutir. He went out to get alms and came back to meditation. At the same time, he healed people as a doctor but now he healed them not only physically but also mentally and spiritually. People started to come to him. When more people started to come to him he opened the ashram. Swami Sivananda was very much one of the exceptional disciples because he already had this knowledge. He met with the teacher and met with Vedanta. He realized very quickly, so didn’t stay with his teacher for a long time and became a teacher himself very quickly. We call this type of student a “gunpowder student”.

Swami Vishnudevananda met Swami Sivananda at a young age, stayed with him for 10 years in India before being sent to the West, and carried on working under the name of Swami Sivananda for the rest of his life. I myself am the same. I did not come into contact with any other teacher. I have stayed in the same teaching the whole time. Of course, there was the temptation to check out other teachings in the beginning. There is always some idea that some other teaching is better than what you are practicing because what you are practicing becomes boring. So, your mind starts to wander, finding fault with the teacher, thinking that what you are doing is not giving any result. So, in case you have a doubt about the teacher, you need to continue practicing until the doubts are cleared out. 

6. SAMADHANA: Balance with attention.

One of my favorite translations of this word is “balance with attention”. The story is that you practice so you become balanced in order to realize the big Self. If you are imbalanced, it means you are extreme in some way. Then you will fall. Why isn’t good to be extreme? To be extreme in something will have an opposite effect. You will fall where you were strong. Balance means you are good in everything and are keeping an eye on the goal of Self Realization all the time. Sometimes you might fall a little bit, go sidesways a little, get a little angry, get a little sad, get a little attached. But you never lose yourself completely, you do not lose your path. One needs to cultivate the virtue of balance, of equanimity, of detachment from the ups and downs, from the liking and the disliking. In this way, your attention is always on the goal. It is similar to keeping yourself balanced on one foot in the tree pose. Your eyes have to look at one point far away to balance in the tree pose. If someone praises you, you might lose it. If someone criticizes you, you might lose it. You have to keep your eye on the goal and not lose it in praise or censure, in good or bad conditions, you are all the time focused. That’s called “balance with attention,” or “concentration on the goal,” or the practice of “equanimity”.

SUMMARY

In order for us to qualify for Self-Realization, we need to gather the 6 qualities: 1) Sama, tranquility, control of the emotions to become peaceful. 2) Dama, control of the senses. Don’t let any sense pull you away, a little bit here a little bit there, but do not give yourself to anything that will pull you away from your center. 3) Uparati, turning resolutely inwards. That means you have to be at the point where you say to yourself, “Enough is enough is enough”. Enough of the external life, enough of seeking for pleasures in the wrong places, enough of these wanderings around, enough is enough is enough! At that time, you say, “I am turning inwards, I’m going to find my peace in the right place”.

4) Titiksha, endurance, forbearing the difficulties of the path, difficulties created by your own mind and the environment. Titiksha is to bear it, not losing it and not dropping it. 5) Shraddha, having faith in your own capacity for realization, faith in the teacher and faith in the teaching.

6) Samadhana, keeping the goal of Self-realization in view; to keep experiencing the “I am” and a little bit of “I am this and that,” and always coming back to yourself, never losing your balance.

By acquiring the 6 virtues (Shad-Sampat), you cultivate the desire to know, Mumukshutva, is the 4th qualification after Viveka, Vairagya, and the 6 virtues. Mumukshutva means you never drop the goal o Self Realization.

Om shanti

Swami Sitaramananda is a senior acharya of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers and is director of the Sivananda Ashram Vedanta Yoga Farm, California and the Sivananda Yoga Resort and Training Center, Vietnam.  She is acharya of China, Taiwan, and Japan as well. Swamiji is the organizer and teacher of the Sivananda Yoga Health Educator Training (SYHET) program, an 800-hour program on yoga therapy, accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT).

Swami Sitaramananda is the author of “Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy” (translated in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Russian), “Positive Thinking Manual”, “Karma Yoga Manual”, “Meditation Manual”, “Swamiji Said, a collection of teachings by Swami Vishnu” in His Own Words. She is responsible for the Vietnamese translation of “Completed Illustrated Book of Yoga” (CIBY) and “Meditation & Mantras” by Swami Vishnu. Many of her video & audio lectures on Yoga life, philosophy, and psychology as well as articles and webinars can be found on this website.

Swami Sita is an ardent supporter of the integration of the Vedic sciences such as Vastu, Jyotish, Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta. She is an international teacher of the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Courses and Advanced Yoga teachers’ Training courses, as well as Meditation and Vedanta & Silence Courses both in Sivananda Ashrams in Vietnam and in Grass Valley, CA.

Stay Detached, Philosophy of the Self

Stay Detached, Philosophy of the Self

The topic of this week end is about five tools to renew our life.

  1. Prana: To renew our life we have to change our Prana level. So, we need to know how to increase prana, how to conserve prana and how to check your prana.
  • positive thinking: To renew our life, we need to resolve all the negative emotions within us and we have to sort it all out and keep positive thinking.
  • adaptability: to renew our life, to refresh our life, we have to be ready to be flexible, to adapt to new conditions, and to work with our ego. We need to understand where we are now, at this moment, and we can change accordingly so we stay in the present and not be pulled down by the subconscious mind, by the past.
  • Meditation in daily life: learn to have another awareness about your daily life activities.
  • Detachment: In order for you to renew yourself, you need to be detached, because if you’re not detached, then you are bound. Bound means you are not free. You are pulled down by your attachment. The teaching today is about how to be detached.
The more that you’ll be able to be detached, the more you are free, the more you can renew yourself and be in the present and be happy. The more that you are attached, the more difficult it is for you to renew yourself and to find yourself.

THE NATURE OF THE TRUE SELF:

To understand what detachment means, you need to know about the nature of the Self first, your true nature.  Your true nature is sat chit ananda. Sat means all the time there, it is not coming and going. It’s not true that when you are born, you start to exist, and when you die, you are finished. In fact, your spiritual nature or your spirit is always there, your consciousness or your true self is always there. To understand this, we need to develop a spiritual approach to life. It means that you need to live your life with a bigger perspective, with a bigger idea of what life is, you need to know the purpose of life, and who you are. Then in this context, we can talk about detachment. If you do not know who you are, then we can’t talk about detachment because for you, everything in life is just action, everything is just attachment, everything is about involvement, everything is drama. You are in what we call the Battle of life, you lost your own true Self in the Battle of life. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lost. Something good happens and you are happy, and sometimes you have a difficult situation, then it is a big drama.  For example, in a pandemic situation you must close the business, stop everything, and things are disturbed, and you are disturbed.

So, we talk about detachment only if you know what you need to be detached from and what you need not to be attached to.

These are two words Swami Sivananda said before he left his body. These are two very important words. He said: “Detach, attach”. It means detach about everything else and attach to God. Detach about everything that you think that is true, real and important and attach to the knowledge of God, of Truth, of the Self. That’s all that is.

The Self is Sat Chit Ananda — three words.

WHAT MEANS SAT?

Sat means it’s always there. It doesn’t come, it doesn’t go, it was not born and it will never die. If you are attached, then everything comes, everything is born, comes about and everything dies. But if you are detached, then you understand that it’s only an appearance. It’s what you feel right now that’s what it is, but it’s not. There’s another level that is not like this and you need to discover that level, that something that is not coming and going and changing and is impermanent. Buddhism talks about the truth of impermanence and of everything that is changing. In order for you to know that which is not changing, you have to be detached. That is Sat. The Self is truth, absolute, eternal.

WHAT MEANS  CHIT?

Chit means consciousness or knowledge, absolute. It means it is only a temporary condition that you are veiled that you don’t know and you are ignorant.

But the true condition is you are consciousness. How do I know? I know because I am that itself. If I think that I am this, then I don’t know that. But if I think that I am you, my true self is you then I know you. So that is difficult to understand. But you see, inside of us always is a desire for knowledge.

We want to know. Some people just finished studying and then they don’t know what to do with their life. So they study another branch. And then they study another two, all the time they study. But they study, many people study, study, study. And they still feel that they don’t know. Because they study things externally, but they don’t have the knowledge of the Self. So yoga, Vedanta have different methods for you to know the self. You have to control the mind, control the emotions, you have to make your life sattvic, calm and pure, you have to meditate, be quiet, be silent and don’t worry, don’t have negative emotions, meditate, don’t be disturbed by anything then the clarity will come to you about everything because there is only one Self, one truth, one consciousness.

WHAT MEANS ANANDA?

Ananda is something that you relate to more. Maybe Knowledge, Consciousness you don’t know but happiness you know. You know your desire for happiness. All the time you are seeking for bliss or for happiness or for fulfillment — and Ananda. Actually, when you are seeking for happiness, basically you are seeking for the Self. You are seeking for happiness in somebody or in something because the Self is happy by nature and it projects that happiness on something external. You project that happiness on something outside and you seek for it, you want to be one with it. The true nature of the Self is happiness absolute. It means it doesn’t need anything to be happy. It is in itself happiness, unconditional happiness. The true nature of everything is happiness. Your mind gets attached to different conditions and attributes happiness or unhappiness to different things. But, if you look within, then your true nature is Ananda or Bliss.

DETACHMENT FROM THE MIND ACTIVITY helps you to access Satchitananda.

First, you need to know the true nature of the Self — Sat Chit Ananda.

Second, you need to know that your mind is not really reflecting that happiness or that true nature. The nature of the mind is conditioned, it is looking outside, it depends on the senses, it is imperfect, it is full of desires, it is swinging between what you like and what you don’t like. It has egoistic ambition, it thinks all the time about something that is unreal, it’s always building up a story. So let’s say you think that you want to become the richest person in the world, the first person that will go and live on the Moon, the first person that will go and live on Mars. So there is a race like this: who will be the first person that will live on the Moon or Mars, or the richest person. So you have a different idea that is egoistic. It is based on your idea to compete with somebody or to be the best. These are called ego ideas. The mind is full of this. When we say the word ‘mind’ it includes your emotions, your ego, your desires. So I say in general ‘the mind’. It comes, it goes, it has a nature of veiling the truth.

And if you attach yourself to it then you don’t have peace. Maybe it gives you the motivation to become the best in the world, the richest person or the fastest person, or the most powerful person, it gives you the motivation to do things, to work hard, but you are looking for that outside of the Self. Really what you’re looking for is the peace Sat Chit Ananda, your true Self, but you’re looking outside of yourself. What you need is looking through your mind, disregarding what is being projected by the mind and clearing out the mind.

THE ANSWER LIES WITHIN: we have what we are looking for

The teaching says you need to look at the right place. The answer lies within. What you are looking for you have, that’s the teaching of Vedanta. Really, you already have it and you waste a lot of energy looking for it.

So you need to calm down, relax, detach, then you’ll find.

STORY:  a lady losing a needle, she goes outside the house looking for her needle. People say: where did you lose your needle?

She said “I lost it inside the house”.

 “So why do you go outside?”

“Because outside there is light”

You are looking in the wrong place, like this lady.

Looking inside means trying to realize your own Self. Looking outside means constantly running externally and believing that the sensual world that we live in is true. Believing that the world is created by our senses, our mind, the internet is true, therefore, we have no time to look within.

In fact, what you are seeking for, you already have. Let’s assume, the lady would look for her needle inside the house, even though it’s very dark. Let’s assume she would look for it with the tip of her finger, because she can’t see when there is no light. But she will find it. So if you continue yoga, meditation you would feel better, even though it seems pointless, that there is no result.

ANOTHER STORY:

The deer is running looking for the smell called the musk that comes from his sweat. The sweat of the animal has that smell. And the deer is running looking for that smell coming from his own body, yet, he looks for it somewhere else. Sometimes, I wear my glasses and I was looking, where’s my glass? Where’s my glass? But it’s on me.

So we have what we are looking for. And we have to wake up from that running and looking for it somewhere else.

DETACH- ATTACH : IT IS NOT EASY TO BE DETACHED:

There’s a story about a lion, a tiger walking in the forest. I like this story. And he walked in the forest and the leaves of the trees fell down. The leaves still had this sap sticky thing. So when we walked in the forest on the leaves, the leaves stuck to his feet. He wanted to remove the leaves and sat down. When he sat down, the leaves stuck to his butt. So he wanted to remove the leaves on his butt and lied down to remove the leaves on his butt. When he lied down, the leaves are attached to his back. So he rolled around. And soon he had leaves all over his body.

What the story says, sometimes we want to be detached from something. Let’s say you want to be detached from your boyfriend. Yeah, because you get attached to the boyfriend and then you become obsessed and the boyfriend is liking somebody else and then you suffer. Or it can be about the girlfriend and you want to be detached from her. People suffer a lot out of this attachment, out of this kind of drama in their mind. And they want to forget. For them detachment means to forget. So what do they do, they drink alcohol to be detached from a boyfriend or girlfriend, from emotional drama and then what happened they will be attached to alcohol or to sleeping pills. Then when they want to detach from sleeping pills or alcohol, they will attach themselves to cigarettes. And when they want to detach from cigarettes, then they would attach to food, they want to detach from food then they would attach themselves to work. So constantly we keep attaching ourselves to different things and it doesn’t solve our problem.

All what everyone wants is to be free. You say I’m going to work so that I can be free and I have enough money to do what I like. And then the work gets attached to you and you get attached to the work.

You can go on and give different kinds of examples. It’s not that easy to be free. One attachment leads to another, then another leads to another, you are just piling them up and you feel like you are in prison. Sometimes you feel like you are a slave to everything. You turn around and the family wants you to do something. You turn around and the boss wants you to do something. You look at yourself and your insights: Oh, I need a promotion and I need a different job so I can be happy. And then you go outside and then the newspaper says you know you need to buy this thing then you’ll be happy. And then you go talk to your friend and your friend says this is a new fashion you know you need to do this, do this and that and then your whole life you’re trying to find happiness and freedom and you feel like you’re sinking like the tiger in the example above. He tried to free himself and he has his body completely with the leaves.

Attachment brings suffering

Sometimes it can be very dramatic. People suicides, they attack their own life because they feel that they cannot get out of the situation. And some people fall sick because it’s a form of slow dying when you’re sick or when you are depressed. Depression is also self destruction because you feel bound, you feel heavy. The drama of your life is occupying your mind and you have no clue that you are in fact — Sat Chit Ananda. It seems this statement is completely up in the air, not real, not feasible, not accessible.

I described here the condition of our attachment. Feel free to give me more examples. But you can look around. Look in the news. Look in the story of people. There is a lot of suffering, attachment brings suffering. If you attach to your beauty, because now you’re young and beautiful, what will happen? When people praise you: Oh, you’re so pretty, you’re so beautiful, your hair is so beautiful, then what happens? When you attach to your skin and your hair, and then your beauty and if something happened to that beauty, then you feel very miserable. And if you get old, you feel very miserable. Because you lose that name, that aura. If you are attached to being intelligent, then you meet people more intelligent than you. And you meet a situation that you feel very stupid because you don’t understand anything.

If you are attached to being strong. I always give that example. It’s a very good example. It is an example of superman. Christopher Reeves is the actor of Superman has been chosen to be Superman. I mean, he has a strong, gorgeous, powerful body. And then Superman makes a lot of money. Yeah, he’s a famous actor on top of the world. And one day by karma, he fell off his horse, he broke his spine or something, he became paralyzed, he had to sit in the wheelchair. So he lost the Superman aura, he is no longer Superman, he lost his job, lost everything. So if he is attached to his image of Superman, attached to his body, he would not be able to accept this condition to sit on the wheelchair.

Actually in an interview, he said that in the beginning, he wanted to commit suicide. He was very lucky because he had a very good wife and children who accepted him and took care of him. And he turned around and detached from his name and fame and image and body and found his spirit that is not affected by the body condition. He found his perfect spirit inside and then he worked for this organization to take care of the rights and privileges of handicapped people. Through this huge accident he was forced to detach from the external and found himself inside.

There are 4 ways of detachment:

  1. Karma Yoga detachment: Karma Yoga taught that wherever you live and whatever you do, try to be detached from results. Be detached from results means to be detached from the idea that you are doing something and you want something out of life.

Whatever you do, either you are a mother, or when you have a job or whatever you do in life, do the best, do your duty, and let go of the result. Be detached from the result. – it can be any kind of job, a high paying job or just a servant job, People praise you fine, people criticize you fine, you do a good job, fine, you don’t do a good job, fine, you’re fired from the job, you have to find another job, or you don’t have any job, fine. Be detached from that.

What does detachment mean in this context? It means don’t identify yourself with what you do. Identify yourself with the immortal Self that is already here.

That’s Karma Yoga’s teaching about detachment. This practice of detachment in daily life saves you a lot of headaches. Bhagavad Gita says your right is to work only. But not with the result. You have to work, try to do the best you can, and try to contribute. But it’s not about you. So be detached from what you do.

  • Bhakti Yoga detachment:

The second way how you practice detachment is detachment in Bhakti yoga. In fact, Bhakti yoga detachment means the yoga of devotion. You need to be detached from your emotions. So you transform your emotions into the highest, purest kind of love, called devotion. Let’s say you are with somebody you don’t like and you’re attached to your emotions. I don’t like this person. I like that person more. And this person makes me angry. This person makes me happier. Your mind is always looking for the person that makes you happy and runs away from the person that makes you angry. This is how the emotions work. The emotions swing all the time: either you run towards something out of projection or pleasure, either you run away from something out of fear or out of pain. Emotions bring attachment, attachment to the past pleasure. You’re attached to the past when you ate the ice cream, you felt so happy. So you’re attached to the ice cream. Somebody said nice words to you so you felt very sweet, you felt very important for that person. So then you get attached to them.

Attachment is an emotion, and we are 95% emotional. We are very emotional by nature, that’s why we are full of attachments by nature. We are attached all the time. Bhakti yoga taught us to turn this attachment into something helpful by getting attached to God, but detached from anything else.

Bhakti Yoga helped an emotional person with lots of emotions and an attached tendency to be attached to God instead or to the highest goal, to the highest ideal.

Bhakti yoga people has difficulty to detach because they are emotional, so they have a lot of attachments. The only thing they need to do is to switch it into attachment to God, to the right thing while being detached from everything else. In fact, the Bhakti Yogi will not practice detachment, he/she just practice attachment, but attachment to the right thing.

it is important for you to know that attachment comes from your emotions. So if you are identifying with your emotions and then you have that attachment to the emotion that will bring about pain. The only thing you need to do is to attach the same emotion but towards God, towards something that is your ideal.

The reason of this switch is because when you attach to an external object, be it a person, or an object, then you lose yourself. However, when you attach the emotion to God, you regain yourself, because God is including you. But if you get attached to somebody else external to yourself, you lose yourself.

Raja Yoga detachment:

The third way of practicing detachment is Raja Yoga kind of detachment. Raja Yoga says detach from thoughts. Raja Yoga is a method of meditation. You sit quietly, you withdraw the senses and you meditate and you concentrate. At that time, your attachment is your concentration on a pure ideal, via the mental repetition of a sacred mantra. During meditation, if thoughts come in your mind, you become detached, you observe the thought and you let it go, you don’t get involved with the thoughts.

This is the main method of detachment of a meditator: you are detached from your own thoughts, you become the observer of your thoughts and you keep yourself concentrated. Here, there is attachment in the form of concentration on a mantra. Technically, your mind can think of only of one thing at a time so if you are attached to a mantra, you are detached from everything else. The sacred mantra induced sacred vibration and has the capacity to merge the meditator with the divine presence which is the essence of the mantra. This will happen when the concentration on it becomes one pointed.

Raja Yoga theory explains that if you concentrate on a mantra, then you’ll be detached from other thoughts, you will not be involved in other thoughts, because Raja Yoga says if your mind is completely one pointedly focused then it becomes meditative. It dissolves all the talks in the mind and then you become one with what is. If you allow a lot of thoughts and distractions in the mind then it takes all your energy it leads you here and there, and you get lost. When you have a lot of thoughts in the mind you are lost. So, when you think too much and you have a lot of thoughts you need to reduce the thoughts by keeping only a few thoughts that are important and detach from the rest.

Focus, reducing distraction, renouncing anything not important and try to follow through with the thoughts you retain. Keeps the mind very concentrated on one thought, detached from distractions, not worrying about anything else. This is Raja Yoga detachment. This is the Raja Yoga meditator’s way of detachment.

 It takes detachment to be able to concentrate.  When a person is not concentrated, when they are very distracted, whatever comes their way, they say: “Yeah, I like that” and they start to do it. And when somebody else says something else: “Yeah, it’s interesting. I like that too”. So they start to do everything and then get themselves involved in everything, spending a lot of money running around trying this and trying that and then not being able to stay still and not finding happiness. Consequently, practice detachment from all thoughts and repeat your mantra which is that pure idea, that neutral thought that is high in vibration, given to you by your teacher. You can repeat the mantra and let go of everything else.

Jnana Yoga detachment:

The fourth type of detachment practice is called Jnana yoga detachment. For Jnana yoga detachment you need to have discrimination. What does it mean? You need to know what is Truth and what is not Truth, what is Self and what is not Self, what is important and what is not important, what is essential and what is non essential. So, then you detach from the unreal, from the non essential and you get attached to that thing that is real, that is essential.

Jnana Yoga is not teaching you to get attached. It says to you that you need to know the difference between real and unreal. And you need to be detached from the unreal. And when you are detached from the unreal and then real will be there. That’s it. You don’t have to be attached. In Bhakti Yoga — yes. In Jnana Yoga — no.

What kind of detachment depends on your personality, however, Sivananda taught the synthesis of Yoga, a combination of the 4 types of Yoga.

You can say depending on your temperament, depending on your strengths and weaknesses, it would be easier for you to detach from this or that.  Maybe it’s easy for you to detach from distractions, because you are a very focused personality, but it can be very difficult for you to be detached from emotions that is part of your being as a very emotional person. Then at that time, you need to apply also Bhakti Yoga, that means you need to attach to God so you have to work slowly on your detachment and your attachment.

I remember what Swami Vishnudevandaji said one time, almost 40 years go, when I just started my Yoga path, that “you will not be born, nobody will be born if they don’t have any form of attachment.”

So attachment is the reason why you’re born. Detachment is the way out of the cycle of birth and death, of the called “cycle of samsara” or cycle of suffering.

The Buddha practiced his discrimination, he used his buddhi, his intelligence, he knew what is real and what is not real, what is permanent, what is impermanent, what is true and what is false and what is illusion. And what is the projection of his mind and what is his true essential nature and he meditates. He detached from everything else and he attained enlightenment. That means he becomes free, free from suffering. He has understood the true purpose of life.

In the same manner, we try to detach from our illusions, detach from things that are impermanent. You always have had experience of the impermanence, you get the desired object, and you know that it will be gone. You know that your mind has always been doing this, it fantasizes and it gets disillusioned. You need to wake up from this. The mind is always grasping things, and thinks it’s real. And then you get it and then the charm disappears, and the mind changes. And you’ll felt let down: “Oh, I thought it was so ideal. It was so good.!”

Kick it, before it kicks you. Future suffering should be avoided.

I want to share with you this sentence I came up with a long time ago: “kick it before it kicks you”, which means detach from it before it leaves you.

So if you know something is impermanent and is changing, don’t be attached to it. Because it will leave you, it will change and then you’ll suffer, it’s painful. It’s better that you take the decision to leave it because you understand the true nature of it is illusory. It promises you something yet you know, it’s just a matter of time that you will suffer from these illusions. Do you want to suffer?

If you don’t want to suffer then do something about it. If you enjoy suffering, and you say “okay, I can have a little bit of pleasure, a little bit of happiness, and if it leaves me, fine and good, I accept the price to pay. It will be painful, but it’s okay. It doesn’t matter.”

I give now some worldly example. Let’s say that’s you get romantically involved with somebody that is already married. While you are happy to have the company of the person, you know that at the end it will not work out. There’ll be big pain, separation, pain for you and for other people. So then stop it. I’m sorry, I would say: ” detach from it, detach from that temptation of pleasure”.  This example is a kind of a big drama, but you know the story of painful forced detachment can be applied to everything else in life.

Jnana yoga meditation can be practiced only when you have an inner conviction, an inside knowing of what is good and what is not good, what is real and what is illusory, what is the truth and what is not.  At that time, you detach from everything else that is not real, and what remains is the truth. If your true nature is peace and happiness and your mind is always projecting peace and happiness somewhere else then when you detach from everything else, and what remains is happiness. You get that? I should repeat. If your true nature is happiness already, but you don’t see it and you project the idea of happiness on something or somebody else, then if you detach from that something or somebody else, then what remains is happiness. Make sense?

“Sounds great!”. Diana, the student says : ” it sounds great!”

Yeah, you just have to detach, because you already have happiness. But you have the illusion that happiness is somewhere else. So be detached from the illusion and what remains is happiness. By not seeking happiness you will be happy. By chasing after happiness, you will be suffering. By being content and knowing yourself, then automatically you will be happy.

So, if you don’t kick things and things will kick you. If you do not detach, it will leave you and you will suffer. This happens also as a lesson, as a way to make you learn. Yes, you learn in suffering, in losing, in separation, in heartaches, and you’re forced to be detached.

So I learned another sentence from Swami Sivananda. He says: ”love little but love long”. It’s so nice. Because your tendency is you love something or somebody and you think if you love more, the more you love, the more you will have more love then you’ll be happy, you will have more happiness. Rajasic emotional nature thinks like this. This lovely thought “ love little but love long” means be detached from this illusion of passion, the illusion of emotions. In practice, If you feel that you love this too much, you get attached to this too much, then diminish it, love little and then it will last.

Summary and Conclusion:

Jnana yoga detachment is difficult because you have to be already discriminative and know what is real and what is not real. Raja Yoga detachment towards thoughts is easier. You can keep concentrating on the mantra, and then let go of all thoughts that come to mind and Meditate. In Bhakti Yoga meditation, just  attach yourself to God, it  is kind of easy but you can become fanatic.

And the last is Karma Yoga meditation, Karma Yoga detachment is working on the sense of non-doer-ship. Don’t get attached to your actions. Don’t get attached to your accomplishment. Do your duty and let go of the results.

Best is you practice all the paths, as they lead to the same place. But start one thing at a time, start with something the most concrete for you, be it Hatha Yoga when you have to detach from pain, from postures that you like and postures you do not like. You also at times, have to detach from routine even though you learn the discipline of a routine practice.

Hare Om tat sat.

OM shanti

Swami sitaramananda

Yoga guidelines for thinking and feeling

Yoga guidelines for thinking and feeling

You are what you think and you are not what you think

Introduction:

When I told this topic to people, people shook head, laughed, wheeled their fingers around by their temples showing signs that they are not understanding why you are what you think and you are not what you think.  

During this webinar we will:

  1. Understand what thought is, and how it works
  2. Breathe and relax and Visualize Self
  3. The 3 levels of mind – how to move from lower mind to higher mind
  4. Practice of conversion of thoughts
  5. Practice of cultivating virtues and eradicating vices

How thought works?

When a thought wave arises in the mind, if you don’t feed into it, the wave falls back into the ocean of consciousness. The wave does not have a reality in itself.  It only has reality as far as you keep feeding it. That is, we name the wave and give it meaning. Feed it, and the thought becomes more solid, and gains more power, and has reality.

We have a choice. We can make these thoughts (whatever they are) the reality, or we can make blissful thoughts reality. Yogis look at the thoughts to understand them, then don’t feed into the thought (give it energy), and let it go. They also can transform the thoughts from darkness to light.

Evolution of the mind

The mind has different levels and functions. The mind is not ourselves. Our thoughts and feelings are not ourselves. We have the tendency to repeat familiar thoughts and feelings and lose ourselves in the thoughts or emotions.

We need to learn to navigate our thoughts and emotions. If we know how to develop our own mind, we will know how to accelerate our process of spiritual evolution. Do we want to evolve? If we ask this question, most of us would say no because they do not know what evolution means. Evolution means coming closer to our core self, our blissful self, satisfying the purpose of our life, being closer to the truth, being truly happy…  that happiness and fulfillment of our soul that last no matter what happens outside.

The Evolution of our mind is directly related to our connection with our blissful consciousness, our Atman.

What is the Atman? Who am I? what is consciousness?

The Self is called the Atman – the Truth about the Self is what we have been looking for all our life. It is our inner motivation. Each person will resonate with different idea about the Atman. You need to choose one word, one qualification and think about it. There are three practices 1. Listening to the scriptures 2. Contemplation, thinking deeply, 3. Realization by direct experience. Now we are listening and contemplating.

  • Vedanta philosophy and quantum physics talked about consciousness as the ground of being.
  • Brahman (or Atman) is absolute pure consciousness, it is satchitananda
  • existence absolute-beyond ages of the body, beyond birth and death
  • knowledge absolute-consciousness, awareness, not thinking automatically, not knowledge coming from the mind.
  • and bliss absolute-complete fulfillment, no desire, no frustration, no complain, happiness without condition, feeling perfection, beyond emotions.
  • Atman gives light and beauty to the universe – it is your own consciousness full of light and beauty that gives beauty to the appearances and the manifestations of nature and its beautiful forms or beings. If you change consciousness, that which was beautiful lost its beauty. Beauty is not depending on the attributes of the body. People have suffered a lot from disillusion from chasing after external beauty.
  • Atman gives intelligence to the mind, shining through the intelligence that you attribute to people. In reality it is the atman that is intelligence shining through.
  • It is unbroken awareness, unbroken sense of Self and of happiness, not functioning automatically out of habit
  • neither inside nor outside, dwelling within, inside inner perception and outer perception of senses, everywhere. The meditator has half eye open, half closed. He or she is living in the world and out of the world in one consciousness only, beyond all conditioning. That is why a person practices to be the same inside and outside to be close to the atman. They would say what they feel, feel what they say and do what they say and feel. They are always the same, independent of where they are, and with who they are.
  • beyond space-time, beyond the mind which is being conditioned by space and time. The more that you will be able to function the same way in all conditions, you come closer to the atman.
  • non local, non material
  • eternally present, it is the truth that is always there, either you are happy or unhappy. Reference to the book “The power of now” of Eckhard Tolle. What ever the problem that you have, just come back to the present, the problem will dissolve by itself. All problems can only come from the past that is also projected in the future. The more we live in the present, the more we come close to the atman.
  • it is the subject, without who nothing exists, it is the master, the boss, the perceiver, not the object of perception. It is the consciousness awareness that sees
  • The atman is not the object, not limited, indescribable, therefore can apply neti neti to refute the superimposed ideas of the mind, after which what remains is the Atman. By being not the object, the atman can not be dependent on something or somebody else. For example you feel valued when somebody praise you and you feel bad when somebody criticize you. At that time you need to come back to yourself and remember that you are the subject. Even when you are serving somebody and try to please somebody, you are aware that you are doing so, and not lose yourself. When you do karma yoga, you have to be conscious of what you are doing. For example you wash dishes but not aiming to finish the task of washing dishes. Instead, you are aware and awake while doing dishes. It is not what you do but the attitude in which you are doing that qualifies this action as liberating karma yoga. In this way the same action makes you a servant or a master.
  • all pervading, everywhere. You can not feel lonely if you realize that.
  • unbounded, free, unlimited, therefore you can not be confined to a place, a relationship, or a condition. In quarantine or lockdown, it will be helpful for people to remember that they are free in truth and not dependent. Sky is the limit when you feel consciousness expanded.
  • unchanged, therefore no grief or surprise or disillusioned when things change (people’s mind and emotions, our own body, our habits, way of living) because it is not true
  • unmoved, stable, giving sense of security
  • Atman is all possibilities, all coming from Atman’s will, so no need to worry
  • undefinable, ungraspable
  • stainless, pure, perfect, not to be found in the relative world which is the mind’s creation and by nature is imperfect.
  • perfect, perceivable through silence not through the mind or emotions
  • beyond attributes,
  • beyond the gunas-  qualities, tamas (darkness), rajas (action), sattva (purity)
  • beyond duality, split, here-there, in-out, this-that, high-low, white-black. No need to go anywhere just have to look within.
  • eternal, not ephemeral
  • having no equal, is one, nothing to compare to, to compete with. That is why do not compare yourself with others.
  • transcendent, transcending the limitations of the mind
  • supreme reality,
  • supreme truth,
  • self luminous, like the sun, does not need anything to give it light
  • fully illumined, bright. If you are close to the atman you feel bright.
  • fully enlightened,
  • self existent, does not need anything to show that it exists, so not lonely
  • undifferentiated, no quality
  • without names and forms, beyond names and forms
  • without parts, cannot be divided
  • transcending appearances which come and go, so we need to see things through the eyes of the soul and avoid disillusion
  • pure love, essence of love, behind all kinds of love, beyond more love or less love. It is 100% love and all the time.
  • unity of consciousness, where all connect, beyond conflicts, beyond differences of wealth (have and have not), culture, gender, race, religion.
  • oneness,
  • beyond action, no need to do anything to find it or to perfect anything
  • aware of ego, sense of separate “I” which manipulates and plays different games
  • aware of mind and emotions, which are not the rulers. Atman is the inner ruler detecting all the changes in the emotions.
  • the knower, it is the subject knowing everything
  • the ruler, the boss
  • the absolute
  • It is compared to the Sun, giving light and life to all,
  • Independent, not dependent on anything
  • and it is the source of all pranas, source of all lives, source of consciousness. When you are closer to the Atman you have more prana, unlimited prana, when you are away from it you have less prana. If you don’t have prana you are far from the atman.
  • Thoughts are waves that rise and fall in this infinite ocean of consciousness.
  • Therefore, it is said you are not what you think.
  • You are the observer, you are not the doer.
  • the witness of your thoughts.
  • You are not your thoughts.
  • All meditators arrive to the same conclusion. They arrive to the experience that the meditator, the object of meditation and the act of meditation become one.
  • The knower, the known and the knowing become one.
  • To answer the question: is consciousness evolving? The answer is no. Consciousness is unchangeable. In fact, it is the veils of consciousness that are changing, being thinned out – as our mind evolves- and this gives us a glimpse of the Light which is Consciousness.

So how to train the mind and unveil the Self?

How to move the mind from lower to higher functioning and be closer to our bliss and truth? We will use the theory of the 3 levels of the mind in order for us to know how to navigate our minds.

3%20levels%20of%20mind%20triangles.jpg

1. The subconscious mind:

  • the base of the triangle, the iceberg is the Subconscious Mind – lower mind
    It is the first phase of the mind.  It is the basic mind from which the conscious mind emerges. It is below the conscious mind; it is controllable by the Conscious Mind.
  • The subconscious mind consists of the unknown, thoughts
    that are HIDDEN, SUBMERGED thoughts;
  • it is very POWERFUL and governs our life 95% of the time.
  • The subconscious mind is the storehouse of PAST experiences
  • and governs many of the AUTOMATIC functions of the body such as breathing, heartbeat, etc.  It also stores the LEARNED EXPERIENCES such as locomotive skills, academic skills, social skills, memories of experiences.  Like a car, you can press cruise control on the highway and be on autopilot.  You can let go.
  • The mind is made of karmic patterns, samskaras. Most of the time we are on AUTOPILOT, following the automatic commands of the subconscious mind.  All the PATTERNS , HABITS of the mind are formed in the subconscious mind.  We talked about KARMIC patterns, karmic tendencies. We can refer to the astrological vedic chart which shows the karmic tendencies through the disposition of the planets (Sun, moon, mars, mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu Ketu).
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Example: the mental patterns in 12 areas of karma

Moon in 1st (self concerned) moon in 2 h (concerned about money, food), moon in third house (concerned about public relations, arts), moon in 4th (likes to love), moon in fifth (likes to learn), moon in sixth (likes conflicts), moon in seventh (likes partner), moon in 8th (likes psychic world), moon in ninth (likes dharma, teacher), moon in ten house (likes to work), moon in 11th (likes gains), moon in twelve house (likes liberation). Other patterns: Moon alone (isolation, feeling lonely), moon mars (fast emotions, action oriented), moon Saturn (introvert), moon Jupiter (generous, broad vision) moon rahu (delusional), moon ketu (detached), moon sat mars (perfectionistic), moon hemmed (tense), full moon (empathetic), exalted moon (lots of emotions), moon debilitated (narrow mind, attached)

  • The subconscious mind is instinctive. It is the seat of our  ANIMAL INSTINCTS:
    Instincts are fast, strong, powerful and irresistible.

Survival – sometimes you don’t understand how people survive, they live in certain conditions, it’s incredible, but you know that the instinct of survival is alive and strong.  We will do what is necessary to survive.  The way to transcend the survival instinct is to offer others food, transcending the impulse to feed yourself first according to your hunger.

Procreation – we find a mate to reproduce the body.  The sexual (procreative) instinct is second after breathing.  Think about this, it governs your life.  Because it’s in the subconscious mind, it means that you are not aware of it, but it is governing your thoughts and actions.  You want to dress in nice clothes, have nice hair, etc., all to find a mate. 

Herd – follow the crowd.  We don’t want to stick out.  If the crowd says this is the way to behave, then you follow because you want to fit in.  You may not know how to fit in, but you just want to fit in, i.e., you are vegetarian, others are not.  Then you feel very strange, not at ease.  Because our instinct is pulling us to be part of the group.  We transcend the herd instinct with satsang, being in the company of the wise who seek the Truth of their own Self, not depending on others to feel safe and secure.

Territorial – we want to have our own kingdom, like the dog that marks his territory, this is my area, then they growl at us.  Emotions associated with the territorial instinct include fear and jealousy.  Animals that act out of their survival instinct compete with each other to find a mate; have a leader; 2 of them fight to establish who is in charge.  Some animals learn how to cooperate.  Human beings can move beyond the territorial instinct through cooperation and community.

  • The subconscious is emotional
    It is the seat of our LOWER EMOTIONS: anger, fear, greed, hatred, jealousy, envy, hatred, lust. These powerful emotions feel strong and lead us on the roller coaster.  Emotional impulses are imperative to us and difficult to resist.  To function in the conscious mind means we have to resist the emotions, the herding instinct, territorial instinct, procreative instinct, etc., resist our habits, to be strong in the present.

  • The subconscious is the seat of habits. Make use of good habits but do not be victim to habits
    All thought patterns (habits) are lodged in the subconscious.  Habits of waking up at a certain time, habit of walking, talking, meditation hours, eating hours.  These are all habits that we can create in our subconscious mind.  Create positive habits and you will not be victim to habits. 
    The conscious mind is in charge, able to adapt to changing circumstances as needed. We Learn by Trial and Error.Errors are stepping-stones to success.  Awareness means to pay attention, to be conscious.  Awareness means we make the effort to learn from our mistakes. 
    Examples: Learning how to drive; A baby learning how to walk; Learning headstand

  • Using autosuggestion: The subconscious mind is your 100 secretaries
    Like a computer with hidden software programmed to run a certain way, the subconscious mind can be your servant, just like having one-hundred secretaries working for you.  For example, you can use autosuggestion to wake up at a certain time.  You need to remove the old software when it becomes obsolete, otherwise it can run against your will.

2. The Conscious Mind

  • Conscious mind is our capacity to make choices.
  • We make choices in the present. 
  • The conscious mind guides the subconscious mind; that is its role.

The conscious mind is more mature, closer to the truth.  The conscious mind is higher than the emotions and the instincts. The subconscious needs to be guided by the conscious mind.
The subconscious mind needs to be guided by the conscious mind, like a child submitting his will to a more mature elder.  The conscious mind’s decisions supersede the lower mind’s wants, being itself inspired by the super-conscious mind.

  • Conscious mind uses intellect.The conscious mind is our reasoning power. The conscious mind makes decisions by analyzing the pros and cons of any given situation. One needs to develop one’s faculty of reasoning.  If you do not use it, you lose it.  We need to develop our discrimination and detachment.
  • For the person not on their journey toward self-transformation, the conscious mind is not often used.  We function automatically throughout the day and think very little.
  • Intellect can make mistakes
    Even though more reliable and superior to the emotional mind, the intellect is limited and can make mistakes.  It cannot perceive the Truth and is limited by time, space and causation. 
    A finite instrument cannot perceive the Infinite.
  • Self-awareness and ego
    With the development of the conscious mind comes the faculty of self-awareness.  Self-awareness is knowing one’s self as a separate ego – not to be mistaken as True Self Awareness which knows One’s Self as One in all apparent names and forms.  A conscious mind that has not been purified can be egoistic.
  • The conscious mind is pulled by the subconscious mind
    The conscious mind can be usurped by the lower mind.  The intellect can be colored by the wrapping of the emotions.  This is how we make excuses and rationalize our decisions.
  • Self-enquiry is to use the intellect to discriminate between real and not real
    That is why one needs to question one’s true motivation and remind oneself of one’s true purpose.
  • The conscious mind helps us to own the present
    To be aware is to feel empowered and alive in the present.  The subconscious mind lives in the past.  Dwelling in the past causes us to feel victimized and powerless.

“The present is superior to the past”

Swami Sivananda


“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness from which it was created.”  

Albert Einstein

Dwelling in the mental patterns of the past can never solve the problem.  Only by coming to the present do we free ourselves from the past and open up to all possibilities, where the solutions to our problems lie.

  • Live in the eternal present

The past feels secure.
The present feels difficult to grasp.
The future is uncertain.
In fact, the past is dead.
The present is Real.
The future does not have to be a replica of the past.
If you hold the present you hold the future.
If you hold the past you are victim to the future.

3. Super-conscious – intuitive higher mind

3%20levels%20of%20mind%20triangles.jpg
  • The superconscious mind (sometimes called supramental) is the seat of intuition.
  • Intuition allows us to know in a flash and does not make mistakes.  Intuition comes from a sattvic mind and is not an impulse which comes from the emotional, lower mind – even though they look alike.
  • The super conscious mind is warm, nice, immediate, powerful and will not make mistake, being closer to the truth. The conscious mind can be perceived as cold by the emotional mind which desires feelings of warmth.  When the conscious mind works in cooperation with the super-conscious mind, it will gain approval, and the subconscious mind will calm down. 
  • The conscious mind takes time to think properly.  The intuitive mind is immediate. However, we can make mistake and go to the subconscious mind instead which is powerful, fast, and instinctive. When we don’t have time, it is easier to go with the subconscious mind.  Better to take time and think properly than to make things worse. 
  • The super-conscious, intuitive mind has feeling, higher feeling of pure love and unity.  It is luminous, warm, it considers everything, transcends time and space, and is closer to the truth.  To make a conscious decision, we need to consider all the facts.  Intuitive thinking knows past, present and future; it knows right away.
  • Intuitive feelings are different than emotional impulses even though they act alike, fast, feel strong, and we cannot resist. If we follow the emotional impulse, it will lead us down, we’ll be let down eventually.  But intuitive thinking will lift us up, and we will not suffer from our decision.
  • The subconscious mind tries to pull the conscious mind down to use for its advantage.
    By contrast, the super-conscious mind inspires the conscious mind, pulling it up. Most of our efforts are to keep the inspiration going, to give us energy, prana, joy, to do good things, to keep the inspiration.
  • How do you get the inspiration if the subconscious mind is too loud? Through satsang, association with people who are inspired; or through scripture, to give us direction, a voice of the Truth. 
  • The super-conscious mind inspires the intellect upward.  It is correct and warm at the same time.  Pure love is correct and warm.
  • Intuition is universal, connecting the mind to its source of wisdom.  The lower mind will act selfishly to fulfill its desires.  The intuition goes beyond all reasoning and yet is not crazy like unbridled emotions.
  • The super-conscious is not the Absolute Truth even though it is higher and is more trustworthy than the intellect.  It is our higher faculty to access knowledge that is to be developed.

4. Navigating the 3 minds – The Yogi’s Journey

The yogi’s journey is an inversion of the triangle.  [Show inverted triangle picture.]  

The yogi endeavors to become aware of the contents of the subconscious mind, to be guided by the intuition.  The yogi keeps the automatic functions to a minimum and is no longer guided by instinct, emotions, past programming and likes and dislikes.  Using the conscious mind, the yogi thins out the veils of the lower mind to see the Reality, the Truth.

Develop 3 levels of mind to accelerate the process of self development

In conclusion the aspirant . . .

  • Develops awareness
  • Exercises reasoning
  • Surrender one’s will to a higher will
  • Overcomes unconscious and base instincts
  • Practices consciously Sadhana to accelerate the process of moving from darkness to light

5. What happens during meditation?

1. Subconscious imprints are cleaned up. Problems are resolved by themselves.

2. Conscious mind is activated and becomes clear.

3. Super-conscious can operate – intuition dawns.

6. Beyond the 3 Minds

Beyond the 3 minds is the Atman, the Absolute Consciousness, the ground of being, the pure, unborn and eternal.

Existence Absolute
Knowledge Absolute
Bliss Absolute

  • Exercises of thought conversion (from lower mind to higher mind), and from negative to positive mind, from tamasic rajasic to sattvic pure mind.  By thinking about something, you will become. However, you are not your thoughts so you can change your thoughts to the opposite. In general you need to counteract the tendency of the mind. The more you do this exercise, the more you will become expert in manipulation of your thoughts from negative to positive and eventually your sattvic mind will be able to reflect your true nature. Eventually all the angularities of your mind will become smooth. That is why we live in community so our mind will friction with each other and one day we will detach from the mind.

Positive words to think about

Thinking about these words can eventually lead you to the light: this is what you want your mind to be

Happy: not permanent happiness but general disposition of the mind.
Joyful: general disposition to be joyful will give you more prana
Healthy: do not think about disease but think about health
Loving: towards everybody, it is the quality of your heart
Compassionate:
Knowledge: to learn, to become curious about knowledge to get out of ignorance
Wise: in order to choose the right response when face with conflicts
Upwards: feeling to move upwards
Expanded: feeling to be big and great
Selfless: not egoistic
Disciplined: in a positive manner, i.e. do the right things at the right time
Uplifted: feeling light 
Light: instead of heavy
Forgiving: not holding any grudge towards anybody
Wholesome: feeling together, feeling oneness
armonious:
Peaceful
Creative
Productive
United
Thoughtful: instead of being indifferent and insensitive
Sensitive
Empathy
Courageous: very important quality, it allows you to change
Flexible: adaptable
Flowing: floating with life instead of being stagnant
Growing: going upwards
Devotional: love for the highest in your heart
Faith: it will make you peaceful and secure, opposite of doubt
Focused: it helps you to be present
United: not separated towards anybody
Strong: just being yourself not abusive but anchored in your self
Calm:
Equanimity: evenness of mind, not up and down and high and low
Tranquil:
Serene:
Forbearing: be able to bear and keeping calm in difficulties
Honest
Content: not desirous, restless
Blissful:
Truthful
Independent: self-reliant
Surrendered: having faith, relaxed, no need to control everything
Forward: feeling of moving forward
Bright
Soft spoken: do say things but nicely
Non Violent: ahimsa
Respectful
Austere: not indulgent
Detached: opposite of attached  
Vigilant:
Clear mind
Even mind
Adaptable
Beautiful: see beauty, feel beautiful
Connected: connected to Self, to the universe, connected to others to feel strong
Relaxed: not stressed
Moderate: not extreme
Balanced
Considerate
Dispassionate: detached while being fulfilled, does not mean being bored

Words to convert to opposite

Opposite of Unhappy— happy
Opposite of Depressed— joyful, energetic
Opposite of Unhealthy — healthy
Opposite of Hatred— loving. To completely avoid using word hatred.
Opposite of Judgmental, which is thinking out of ego— accepting, tolerant
Opposite of Chaotic— harmonious
Opposite of Undisciplined— disciplined
Opposite of Lazy: enthusiastic
Opposite of Slothful: caring
Opposite of Unrighteous: righteous
Opposite of Careless: caring
Opposite of Angry: being content, letting go of expectation
Opposite of Revengeful: forgiving
Opposite of Restless: peaceful
Opposite of Fearful: courageous
Opposite of Anxious: having faith
Opposite of Worried: having faith
Opposite of Shy: self-confident
Opposite of Doubtful: having faith
Opposite of being stuck: feeling flowing
Opposite of Stagnant: felling progress
Opposite of Irresponsible: responsible
Opposite of Jealous: accepting own karma, accepting self
Opposite of Envious: be more realistic about who you are, content
Opposite of Skeptical: having faith
Opposite of Proud: humble
Opposite of Abusive: respectful
Opposite of Frustrated: accepting
Opposite of Irritable: patient
Opposite of Arrogant: humble
Opposite of Selfish: selfless
Opposite of feeling Limited: feeling expanded, unlimited
Opposite of Rigid: being flowing, flexible, adaptable
Opposite of feeling Downward: feeling upwards
Opposite of Indulgent: disciplined
Opposite of being Addictive: being disciplined
Opposite of Crazy: orderly, grounded
Opposite of Self doubt: having faith in Self
Opposite of Self hatred: Self-love
Opposite of Spiteful: forgiving
Opposite of Dishonest: honest
Opposite of Manipulative: straightforward
Opposite of Lustful: pure
Opposite of Unstable: stable
Opposite of Attached: detached
Opposite of Possessive: generous, sharing
Opposite of Self righteous: self-surrendered
Opposite of Contempt: respect, humble
Opposite of Vicious: considerate, ethical
Opposite of Sinful: dharmic
Opposite of Perverted: pure, good
Opposite of Procrastinating: do it and surrender results
Opposite of Pessimistic: optimistic
Opposite of Feeling Lack: feeling fulfilled
Opposite of Naïve: realistic
Opposite of Inconsiderate: considerate
Opposite of Weak: strong
Opposite of Feeling Empty: feeling fulfilled
Opposite of Desirous: content
Opposite of Greed: generous
Opposite of Exaggerating: being truthful
Opposite of Imbalanced: balanced
Opposite of Inconsistent: consistent
Opposite of Wasteful: conservative
Opposite of being Mean: being generous
Opposite of Stingy: generous
Opposite of being Sensual: being austere, turning inwards
Opposite of Worldly: going inwards

8. Exercises of thought cultivation: eradicate vices and cultivation of virtues

Monday: detachment / attachment
Tuesday: courage/ fears, anxieties
Wednesday: compassion/ judgmental
Thursday: faith/ doubts
Friday: charity/ greed
Saturday: patience/ impatience
Sunday: forgiveness/ narrow-mindedness
January: austerity/ indulgence
February: generosity/ stinginess
March: vigilance/ slothfulness
April: pure love / lustful
May: creativity/ stagnant
June: forgiveness/ vengeful
July: equanimity/ bias
August: serenity/ disturbed
September:  Straightforwardness/ hypocrisy
October: adaptability/ rigidity
November: self discipline/ distracted
December: charity, selflessness / egoism

We Are Moving From Darkness to Light

We Are Moving From Darkness to Light

“Your inherent nature is joy, ānanda, which is eternal.  That is the message of yoga and vedānta.” – Swami Vishnudevananda

The 3 Gunas

Yoga offers us valuable guidance on our journey towards peace of mind. The formula is simple and can be described as a way of working with the three gunas or qualities of nature: 1) break through the tamas; 2) calm down the rajas; and 3) nourish the sattva.

All the objects of this universe contain the three gunas. The gunas operate on the physical, mental, and emotional levels and obscure our true nature, veiling the Light within. We become attached to physical conditions, stuck in stressful thought patterns, and feel unable to free ourselves from repeated negative emotions.

The light of consciousness, the Atman, reflects through the physical body, the mind and its emotions, just as a brilliant and pure crystal has no color of its own. When a colored object is brought near, it reflects the same color and appears to be that color—blue, red or whatever it may be. In the same way, the Atman is colorless and without qualities yet is veiled by the physical body and mind.

Yoga teaches us that we are neither the body nor mind. We are not our thoughts. The gunas are only veils to our true Divine nature, the Light of Atman.

We must break through tamas

Tamas is resistance to change. The mind seeks stability in the face of constantly changing circumstances (karmas), finding security in addiction to food, alcohol, relationships, and other kinds of behaviors. Without the capacity to discriminate good from bad, we become dependent on external objects and ways of thinking. We may not even like the thing but will choose it anyway out of apathy and ignorance. Tamas veils the Self, providing only a dim view of our true nature. We must make a conscious choice to extract ourselves from Tamas. It takes a good strong kick to move the mind from its tendencies.

We must calm down rajas

Rajas is forceful change. Rajas is ego-driven toward the external, actively engaging the world. Its extreme is to control situations and to meet expectations. One directs their energy outward to effect change that reflects a certain prescribed vision.

Rajas is the energy of action and passion, and of external projection. It singles out an aspect of life that the ego likes and goes towards it to the exclusion of everything else. We become attached to our actions. It is said that fulfilling one desire only reinforces that desire and leads to ten new desires. When these conditions are not met, one falls into disappointment and disillusionment (tamas).

We must nourish sattva

Sattva is wisdom to accept change. We accept that change is in God’s hands and that we do not control change. Sattva is to know that we do not know. Sattva reveals, allowing us to penetrate into the true picture of reality. It is the energy of moving inward and upward, letting go of our attachment to external objects and ever-changing outcomes.

Sattva allows us to see the mind’s tendencies with clarity. With more balance and harmony in our mind, we remain peaceful in the face of difficulty, allowing ourselves to make wise choices rather than reacting to situations beyond our control.

To overcome the egoistic veils of ambition, pride, projections and opinions, desires and expectations, we must nourish sattva through selfless service, devotion, control of the senses and mind, and meditation on the Self. We must learn to detach from external conditions, to question our mind’s thought patterns, and to stop functioning out of habitual conclusions.

Summary

Our journey is to transform ourselves from negative to positive, from restlessness to peace, from darkness to light. Peace of mind is difficult to attain because our minds are always changing. Like the woman who has lost her needle inside of her house, but looks for it outside, we restlessly seek for happiness outside when all the time, the Truth lies within.

Swami Sivananda says, “Fear not. Grieve not. Worry not. Your essential nature is peace. Thou art an embodiment of peace. Know this. Feel this. Realize this.”

Questions for your Self-study

  • How do you react to change?
  • Do you try to control your environment? The situation? Others?
  • Do you find that change causes stress? If so, what aspect of change causes you stress?
  • What are your Yoga practices to nourish sattva?

You can leave answers to the questions in the comments section below.

Other articles of interest:

Author

Swami Dharmananda is assistant director of the Yoga Farm for many years and is in charge of the karma yoga program.  He is a faculty of the Sivananda Institute of Health (SIHY) and is one of the main teachers of Yoga Philosophy and Meditation at the Ashram. He took sannyas vows in 2013 and is keenly interested in yoga psychology and philosophy, presenting the classical teaching in a practical and accessible way to people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Crest Jewel of Discrimination

Crest Jewel of Discrimination

In this podcast, Swami Sita teaches from the book Crest Jewel of Discrimination written by Adi Sankaracharya.  Sankara describes the need for devotion in order to experience truth and freedom.  We have to learn to have discernment between what is helping us and what is not.  By practicing right thinking we can cultivate an inner power / knowledge.  Our current state is that we are lost in an ocean of worldliness where we only see external things.  But we need to remember the Self and have the power of discrimination / discernment.  It is like a snake / rope where what we are seeing is not real, and we need the light to see correctly.

Listen in for Divine Wisdom

Yoga and the Koshas for Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

Yoga and the Koshas for Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

Yoga and the Koshas for Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

by Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Yoga Farm Director

Swami Sitaramananda is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda and acharya of the US West Coast centers and Ashram.  Swamiji is also the acharya of the Sivananda mission in Asia, especially in Vietnam, where she hails from.

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Yoga Heals on the Spiritual, Mental and Physical Levels.

Here’s how – Yoga works on all three bodies: the physical body, astral body, and causal body. In this article, we will learn about three bodies and how Yoga heals them.

Each person has a physical body made of matter, an astral body containing prana and thoughts, and a causal body which contains the quality of spirit.

The three bodies are made up of the five “koshas” or sheaths. Below is a breakdown of the three bodies and their corresponding koshas:

Physical Body – The Vehicle for the Soul

Annamaya Kosha – The Food Illusion Sheath

  • Made of food
  • Composed of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether.
Astral Body – A Subtle Body that the Eyes Cannot See

Pranamaya Kosha – The Energy Body

  • Made of prana or vital life force
  • Physical body is able to live and act because of prana

Manomaya Kosha – The Mind

Vijnanamaya Kosha – The Intellect

Causal Body – The Core from Which Your Karma Originates

Anandamaya Kosha – The Bliss Sheath

  • A thin veil of ignorance
  • Subtle identification with separateness
  • Here you experience your true blissful nature

To help you understand, it’s good to know that the sanksrit word “maya” means illusion and “kosha” means sheath. All of the five koshas are illusory sheaths that are veiling the reality of your true nature as Satchitananda—Existence, Knowledge and Bliss Absolute.

A graphic illustrating the three bodies and the five koshas: Physical Body, Astral Body, Causal Body. Annamaya kosha, Pranamaya kosha, Manomaya kosha, Vijnanamaya kosha, and Anandamaya Kosha.

How to Purify the Three Bodies

Yoga is purification. That is why in Sivananda Yoga we focus primarily on the purification process. The purification process means you have to clean out the gross veils, all these aforementioned maya sheaths (the koshas), in order for you to see through to the Self.

The good news is that there are many different ways to purify. Below are the ways you can purify each kosha. Then you can experience health and peace of mind.

How to Purify the Physical Body

Firstly, you purify the gross physical body and identification with it. This can be accomplished through asanas (yoga postures) and the practice of proper vegetarian diet. If you eat a proper diet then your body will function properly and will not be a hindrance.

Proper Exercise – Asana
  • Removes blockages and toxins in the body
  • Increases strength and flexibility
  • Tones organs, tissues and muscles
  • Reduces stress
  • + many more health benefits
Proper Diet – Vegetarian
  • A proper diet is Sattvic or pure
  • Avoid foods that dull or overstimulate the mind
  • Food prepared with digestive spices
  • Food that is not overcooked or undercooked
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol
  • Organic, whole, unprocessed foods
  • A vegegtarian diet follows the principle of Ahimsa (non-violence)
  • Heals and prevents disease and toxic buildup in the physical body
  • Provides full range of nutrition for optimal function

How to Purify the Astral Body

Secondly, the pranamaya kosha is purified through pranayama, or control of prana. Pranayama involves breathing exercises that help remove blockages and regulate the flow of prana in the pranamaya kosha.

Pranayama – Proper Breathing

Complete Yogic Breath

  • Control of Breath = Control of Prana
  • Use the full lung capacity
  • Inhale and exhale into the diaphragm, ribcage and chest
  • Reduces stress; activates parasympathetic nervous system

Kapalabhati

  • Forceful exhalation, passive inhalation
  • Removes stail air from the lungs
  • Clears blockages in the Nadis or energy system
  • Increases mental clarity, concentration and focus

Anuloma Viloma

  • Alternate Nostril Breathing
  • Balances prana, mind and emotions
  • Increases pranic energy and overall vitality
  • Leads to mental and emotional health

Thirdly, you can purify the Manomaya kosha through meditation, positive thinking, proper behavior, karma yoga (selfless service), bhakti yoga (devotion), yamas and niyamas (yogic ethics). The Manomaya kosha is the mind, emotions and the senses, and in it you also have the subconscious.

Dhyana – Meditation
  • Connects us with a Reality beyond thoughts and emotions
  • Brings inner strength and peace of mind
  • Provides clarity of purpose in life
  • Increases concentration
Positive Thinking
  • Being aware of negative thoughts
  • Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
  • Practice positive affirmations
  • Over time eradicate negative and wrong thinking
Yamas and Niyamas
  • Ethical foundation of Yoga
  • Yamas include: Non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity, and non-greed
  • Niyamas include: purity, contentment, austerity, scripture study, and surrender of the ego
  • Purifies the mind and the heart, removes selfishness

A plate of delicious, organic, vegetarian food at the Sivananda Yoga Farm.
Bhakti Yoga
  • Sublimates the emotions to devotion
  • Opens the heart
  • Surrender to God
Karma Yoga
  • “Do your best, surrender the rest”
  • Let go of attachments to results of action
  • Purifies the heart and the ego
  • Overcome likes and dislikes
  • Gain a flexible mind

    Fourthly, in order to purify the Vijnanamaya kosha, you have to purify the intellect and ego. In order to purify the ego you need get the selfishness out of the way through selfless service or Karma YogaMorever, you can purify the intellect through self inquiry, jnana yoga techniques, and meditation.

    Jnana Yoga
    • The Study of Vedanta (Yoga Philosophy)
    • Highest level of knowledge
    • Knowledge passed down by Rishis or enlightened sages
    • Teaches unity of life
    • Proclaims the common Self in All
    • The limited ego or “little s” self makes you feel separate
    • Your true nature, or “Big S” Self is one with everything
    Self Inquiry
    • Self inquiry is a Jnana Yoga technique
    • Always inquire: “Who am I?”
    • Assert the you are Brahman, the imperishable supreme soul
    • Brahman is one with everything
    • Brahman is Sat (existence) Chit (knowledge) Ananada (bliss) absolute
    • Happiness is your true nature

    In order to practice Jnana Yoga and self inquiry, you must always ask “Who Am I?”. In addition you negate any attachment to the limited, illusory world or false sense of self. Meditation will show you that the intellect is also limited.

    Eventually with practice you will know the intellect is limited because you have the experience of the absolute, infinite, primordial Self. This experience is known as Samadhi. 

    Finally, through Samadhi you transcend the Anandamaya kosha. Meditation already leads you to anandamaya kosha, but your view of the Self is still being obstructed by a thin veil of spiritual ignorance.

    The thin veil of spiritual ignorance is burned when you experience Samadhi, or complete absorption of the mind. Only at that time do you know that the reality is more than the anandamaya kosha, and you go beyond that kosha and merge with the Supreme.

    Conclusively, the four paths of yoga lead to the unveiling of the five koshas and heal on a spiritual, mental and physical level. The four paths of Yoga are karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga (which includes Hatha Yoga) and jnana yoga.

    In other words, practicing the five points and the four paths of yoga will lead the three bodies to be healed. When you remove spiritual ignorance,  you come closer your True Nature. That is to say you experience spiritual, mental and physical health.

    Self-Realization

    The classical Yoga teaching is always about Self-realization, with nothing else but that realization as the end goal. However, spiritual ignorance makes us believe ourselves to be something other than Self, which is when we are identifying with the vrittis (thought waves).

    Alternately, we identify with our thinking in the mind and then the thinking becomes solidified and it manifests as karma. After that, the soul is born in the physical body in order to work through solidified karmic tendencies that come from the spiritual ignorance in the first place.  

    For the healing aspect of yoga, we have to go into the deep root cause of the wrong thinking in the first place. Because of this, Yoga primarily focuses on spiritual progress. In order for spiritual progress to take place, there must be removal of the impurities in all three bodies. 

    © Swami Sitaramananda 2018 – No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.

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