Picture of Bhagavan: By Alan Larus

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A strange visit
on Holy Saturday.

Talking about this and that.
( I never imagined
I would lift you into your chair )

In this world
of coming and going,
arriving
after I had gone,
Below the mountain,
on the long way home.

And here I am
in this backwards play
knowing I did nothing
( for it )
to be so.

When I was 17 years old I went to my teacher for the first time. I had been reading several books and discussed yoga with two friends of mine.

She asked me what I wanted to learn, and I said Pranayama. She asked why and I referred to something from a book.

So she gave me a long lesson on discipline and hard work, telling me she was quite sure I did not have what it would take. I felt very uncomfortable and just wanted her to finish so I could leave.

Then I saw a picture on the table behind her. I did not know who was smiling so alive inside the silver frame, but I knew I had walked through the right door.

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Alan Larus “I live in Norway and work with database programming. When I have the time I walk in the mountains, forests and along the sea. I also listen to music and read and write a little poetry and take pictures.”

Understanding of the Active/Passive Aspect of Kundalini Yoga Practice: By Pieter Schoonheim Samara

pieter

It is often said that Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, comprises all systems of yoga. This is meant more in the sense that the result and benefits of other systems of yoga gradually and suddenly emerge into the experience of the Kundalini Yoga practitioner, such that one will notice the emergence of a deep intuition of posture and prana, and awaken to the experiences of shakti, laya, bhakti, and gyan (jnana), which emerge spontaneously into consciousness. While providing all the benefits of physical and mental health, fitness and fortitude, Kundalini Yoga is entirely different in approach, practice, technique, benefit and result than any other system of yoga. Kundalini Yoga is a Path towards direct experience of the non-dual all-pervasive and single Self.

This article is to provide some clarification and guidance as to how to practice Kundalini Yoga to realize the full physical, mental and spiritual benefit, while attempting to make it clear that, even though the various aspects of Kundalini Yoga may seem somewhat like the practices of other yogas, one should not make the mistake of teaching or practicing Kundalini Yoga, as one might have learned in another yoga discipline, because the dynamics of Kundalini Yoga are entirely different.

While other yogas often lose their direction – hatha becoming a “stretch and bolt,” martial arts – a sport, bhakti leading to fanaticism, jnana into intellectual mind-games, daily practice of Kundalini Yoga generates a relentless force field within the body mind and soul that turns one to experience their True Spiritual Self, as a magnet turns to true north.

Through the daily practice of Kundalini Yoga, there is a gradual strengthening of the nerve pathways and centers of the body towards the experience of an increasing electromagnetic voltage that corresponds to the influx of the awareness of the universal energies that support and sustain the body and mind, like the conversion in a house of a 110 voltage system, gradually to a 220 voltage system, then to a 440 voltage system, where, by analogy, the electric wiring, fuses and energy support systems are progressively strengthened throughout the body field. The results are systematic, holistic, expansive, balanced and complete, where Kundalini is experienced as an awakening of Awareness. This awareness brings about a total opening of the systems of the body. The governors, which are energy control centers in the Kandal, between the navel and fourth vertebra, the brain and the Heart, which restrict (like the surface of a bubble) the sudden influx of the ocean of energy that surrounds us, are able to gradually open the body’s energy channels to this ocean.

Voltage throughout the body increases to allow the infinite energy that supports, sustains, and pervades the universe in all dimensions to emerge as our normal awareness. As a result of this systematic strengthening of the body field, as energy increases, it diffuses throughout the system, so that even sudden bursts, which in other yoga practices may seem troubling, become no more that waves on the shore of an ever widening ocean to the practitioner of Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan. There is a shift in awareness from reflected consciousness (the moon of the mind) to direct consciousness (the sun in the Heart), from notional “i” to the True “I” that is seamless. The Guru becomes the inner divinity in one’s Heart, no longer the reflected images of the mind.

Kundalini in other yoga practices is something different, because the body and mind are not prepared and adequately balanced, except in a monastic situation, and then under the careful guidance of someone who has practiced that yogic system, who assists the practitioner in the long and arduous purification process unique to that specific practice. Otherwise, there may be sudden bursts of energy that become disconcerting to the practitioner who experiences them, who then has no one to go to for direction. Thus, yoga / mediation teachers often tell their students to disregard energy flows or to sublimate them, which in reality is like the lifeguard at a lakeside resort telling someone, who is swimming with some discomfort in the middle of a lake, to avoid the experience of water against their skin and wetness in the mouth.

In Kundalini Yoga practice there is acceptance and opening, not denial or rejection. As the higher centers open, the devotion one feels, the deep inner longing, are for the ever increasing experience of purity, lightness and Truth that begins to permeate them, versus images of devotion that often trap devotees into an imaged concept of God.

Shakti becomes Bhakti, and Bhakti becomes Gyan (Jnana), a realization of inner Wisdom and Self Knowledge that is beyond thought and conjecture, beyond endless intellectual discourse and argument, into which many other practices degenerate. The power of the discriminative mind emerges, a Force of Intelligence permeates and rivets the body and mind to the Spirit, and the pure mind inverts and reflects the True Self in the Heart. The ancient Sages and Yogis call this the Enlightenment of the Whole Body.

Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, is very practical. Innumerable sets of Kundalini Yoga exercises, kriyas, mantras and meditations, with their origins going back thousands of years, once hidden and imparted secretly are now provided openly, each with specific purposes that culminate in the systematic strengthening of the energy pathways, centers and governors, resulting in the simultaneous influx of the universal energy consciousness pervading us. But there are basics that need to be covered in order to realize the full power and benefit of a daily Kundalini Yoga practice, i.e., sadhana.

 

Invocation / Dedication:

 

Kundalini Yoga practice always begins with a dedication. Our life and being, our consciousness is based on one simple component. Awareness. This simple Awareness is a light that illumines everything. It is the subject-“I” to all objects. Its source is the substratum of waking, dreaming and deep sleep. It is the support for the physical, subtle and causal bodies. It is the consciousness behind the conscious mind, the subconscious and unconscious. It is a self-effulgent screen within which and upon which everything seen and unseen appears. While single and all-pervasive, it manifests in the Heart, the Harimandr, from there filling all the nerves of the body and a major nerve up to the brain with the sense or awareness of “I” – of identity. All that is required to awaken to the True Self is to hold onto this Awareness and just watch. In Kundalini Yoga we begin with a dedication to apply this Awareness to our entire practice and life. This is the Adi Mantra: Ong Namo Guru Dev (Day) Namo: In the Name of the Creator, the Creative Force in the Universe. In the Name of That Inner Divinity that takes me from darkness to Light,… i.e., I dedicate my awareness.

This means that throughout the practice the orientation is always to be aware, as follows:

 

Concerning the Awareness of postures and movements in Kundalini Yoga:

When there is a posture, movement or angle, it is also important that you s–t–r–e–t–c–h. For example, if you are instructed that the arms are to be held at 60o, you bring them to 60o (not 45o to 90o) and stretch the shoulders, arms, fingers, opening the armpits. Kundalini Yoga is the yoga of angles. The angle leads to a specific effect. By stretching, you will discover that the exercise becomes easier and achieves its full physiological intent. The same for raising legs, or arching. There needs to be an attention and awareness of a full and complete execution of a Kundalini Yoga exercise, not necessarily to do a posture or movement to perfection, as with some yogas, but to do ones best to perform the Kundalini Yoga exercise correctly (and never to over exertion or strain, which might hinder practice later). A little done right will enable you to do much more later. In time, progressively, you will find that what you can do now for 30 seconds or for a minute or 2, within a matter of weeks it will be easy to do these same exercises for 3 minutes, 5, 7, 11, 31 minutes. The stretching is the key to holding a position for a long time, because it vitalizes the entire life system in each area. Otherwise the body will feel like a dead-weight.

Also, in movements, begin slowly and feel the link of the awareness to the pranic radiance; then begin to add breath. Then, to effect the electric charging of the body, begin to gradually increase the power of the breath and the movement. The result will be that you will see a tremendous difference in the overall experience and realization of the benefit of each Kundalini Yoga exercise.

In Kundalini Yoga, awareness is the important factor to the practice. That’s why Yogi Bhajan emphasizes that “Kundalini yoga is the Yoga of Awareness.” He doesn’t say the yoga of postures, movements, angles, breath, bhandas, and so many other factors, but specifically “Awareness.” This is because our Awareness is the True Self, and through the practice of Awareness in a yoga that generates and deepens the experience of radiance, identity to the limited mind dissolves, and the substratum support Awareness emerges – the Infinite Being, and you abide as That.

Therefore, when we move into a posture and movement, we begin slowly, being aware of every part of the body, of the stretching of muscle and ligaments, of the relaxation of all parts of the body not involved in the exercise, so that the energy generated can flow directly to the areas under pressure, and then to relax inwardly those areas under pressure, so that these too will be able to fully absorb the energy flow being generated. The very directing of awareness to these areas will also greatly expand the growing sensation of radiance that flows from the muscles and organs, then deeper from the cells, then deeper from the atoms, and then even deeper, as ever expanding radiance is felt that you eventually realize to be the Radiance of the Self, the light of your consciousness.

 

Awareness in Breathing:

 

It is also very important that you learn to do the breathing properly. The basic breaths are long deep breathing (yogic breath), breath of fire and suspension of breath (holding the breath). But there are other breaths as well, such as kapalabati, canon breath and others that have specialized applications in conjunction with posture and movement that result in a unique effect that is exponentially greater and different than as practiced in other yogas.

 

Breath of Fire – whether one is sitting cross-legged with hands on the knees or arms extended in front of the chest, hands clenched or other angle, the main focus is on the rhythmic expansion and contraction of the diaphragm powered by the movement of the solar plexus and navel, so that the air is felt deep in the lungs, in the middle and through the chest area without using the muscles of the abdomen, chest or shoulders. This means that as you enter lightly into this breath, once you feel the light flow of the breath and the beginning of the emergence of a delicate pranic radiance, you begin to watch through the abdomen, the sides, the legs, the lower spine, the middle and upper arts of the back, the solar plexus and chest, the shoulders, neck and throat, the facial muscles, lips, jaw, eyes and forehead, relaxing each and every area. Then you refocus on the light rhythm of the diaphragm, relaxing its movement. The very application of this awareness to the diaphragm also gives it a greater voltage and energy, so that you’ll notice that the power and movement, combined with increasing radiance all through and around the body, deeper and deeper, becomes steadily stronger. In this way, you develop the Awareness to practice in a manner that allows the energy being generated to go to the actual areas under pressure from the posture or movement and not to be dissipated in other areas that might be under tension or stress only because awareness was not applied to relax and release these areas. Then the focusing of the energy flow to the areas under pressure will bring about the greatest benefit.

This same approach should be used in the beginning and active part of every Kundalini Yoga exercise, kriya, mantra and meditation.

 

Long Deep Breathing – in the Breath Awareness exercise, which is simply the practice of the yogic breath, there are three areas one becomes aware of: The inhalation together with the expansion of prana or feeling of radiance through the legs, lower middle upper part of the body, the chest/heart, neck head, up through the top of the head and expanding outward around the body field.

You inhale deeply down to the bottom of the lungs by allowing the lower part of the diaphragm to unwrap and expand downward and out against the abdomen. Then, pushing lightly down in the knees with the hands and pulling in with the hands against the knees, the spine will arch, chest come forwards, shoulders back, chin come in slightly and neck stretch upwards, slightly back at the axis and atlas. This is neck lock. Then “suspend the breath forward in the chest, and you will feel the gradual expansion of the energy flow, as described. With each breath more and more prana is stored in the heart, located it the 8th vertebra pranic center. After 5 to 10 seconds (initially holding 5 seconds and then gradually increasing to 10), slowly exhale, squeezing from the top of the lungs downwards until, as sensation of upwards contraction of an area just below the navel is felt. Then you will feel all the expanding energy, the prana, withdraw and flow down from the centers in the brain and higher centers, down into this area, which you just maintain in a contracted state without pulling upward as with root lock, for 5 or more seconds. In this way, the prana is expanded then together with the downward flowing apana, contracted. With every breath a greater and greater radiance will be felt throughout the body, all around and deeply into the cells and atoms of the body. Then inhale and hold the breath, come into neck lock, suspend the breath, meaning there is no downward pressure at the throat on the expanding pranic radiance. Then pull the root lock, which draws the accumulating polarity of energy in the Kandal below the navel up into the spine and experience a flow of energy radiating upwards and out, expanding in an ever widening field through the 10 Bodies – the chakras, throughout the aura, ark line and radiant body. This is a key breath (prana) awareness exercise, often used between Kundalini Yoga exercises.

In the Breath Awareness Exercise, you also become aware that in the suspension of breath you will notice that the radiance felt in the chest extends all through the front of the body, a kind of an infilling electric sensation that entirely suspends the breath and the mind. With each breath, you will notice a sense of abiding singly as the seer, with less and less interest or focus on the energy increasing throughout the body. The emergence of a sense of being “empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind’s power (attention).” (from faith Mind of the Third Zen Patriarch) Thus, suspension of breath in holding the breath produces an effect that is vastly different from the breath retention in other yogas.

By incorporating this in the way that Kundalini Yoga exercises are practiced, the body becomes acclimated to the experience of greater energy flows, the mind becomes more expansive, pure/satvic, inertia is relinquished, and your awareness grows in inward clarity and expansion and the emergence of a deeper knowledge of who and what you really are, less and less centered around the focusing of the sense of “I” identity, more and more simply abiding in the consciousness of radiant, expanding being and the inward emergence of your True Identity in the Infinite.

 

Awareness and Bhandas:

 

Learning the bhandas properly from the beginning is also important, i.e., mool bhand (root lock), uddyana bhand (diaphragm lock) and jalandara bhand (neck lock). Bhandas are meant to direct the easy flow of circulating energy during and after the completion of the active portion of a Kundalini Yoga exercise. Eventually an automatic electromagnetic locking effect will be felt, as the energy increases in the body. Practice makes this eventuality come sooner.

 

Preparation:

 

Each Kundalini Yoga exercise has a specific effect that can be felt in the radiance generated and longer term deepening of awareness. Kundalini Yoga exercises are usually put together in sets with a specific purpose or more powerful kriyas, which may also be part of a set.

In order to derive the full benefit of sets, kriyas, laya mantras and meditations, it is suggested that a few kundalini Yoga exercises and pranayamas be practiced in preparation, in order to activate the radiance throughout the body and charge and balance the channels, then the effect of the sets, kriyas and meditations will be immediate and much more powerful.

An example would be to start with the breath Awareness Exercise, lead by the teacher.

This might be followed by bringing the palms of the hands together, with thumbs against the sternum to begin the Invocation / Adi Mantra repeated 3 to 5 times, then inhale, hold the breath, pull the root lock and 30 seconds later, relax the breath. When you exhale you may feel a sensation of strong electricity moving through the spine and throughout the body. Just remain entirely passive and relaxed and the energy will flow outward.

Then sitting, spread the legs wide and bring the arms up to the sides, parallel to the ground pressing the shoulders back. In this exercise you slowly begin the lean forwards keeping the spine straight, leading with the heart and not the head, so the head remains slightly up. Then slowly start to stretch the arms forward, reaching and stretching the arms as far as possible. Feel the flow of radiance as you move.

Then slowly come into the starting position. Be aware of the stretching of the ligaments and muscles in the back and shoulders. With each slow forward and back motion, feel the radiance expanding throughout the body. You may notice a certain brightness in the source of the flow of attention between the heart and the brain. After 9 or 10 such stretches introduce a long deep breath as you come straight, hold a moment, then exhale as you stretch forwards. Again each slow motion will add pranic radiance. Then to increase the power and voltage much further, begin to move through this exercise with greater power in movement and breathing. You should begin to feel the radiance becoming electric. Then inhale and hold the breath, pull the root lock and let the energy fill the body, expand upwards and all around the body field. Exhale and lower the arms squeezing all the breath out until you feel the area below the navel contract upwards. Repeat in the same manner as Breath Awareness Exercise, several times, then inhale and hold again. Pull the root lock, feel the electricity flow through the legs, torso, back, arms and through the head, then relax for a minute, and come sitting cross-legged. The spine and back will be open and the Heart will be open from this exercise, and the whole body will radiate.

The next exercise is similar to the Breath Awareness Exercise in the intent to irradiate the body field. In this case one prepares for the practice of Kundalini Yoga exercises by bringing the arms forward, parallel to the ground, hands clasped in Venus Lock and doing the Breath of Fire. You begin lightly, then, as the prana begins to expand in the body, you will notice that the power of the breath, both in terms of volume of air pumped and speed, increases steadily throughout the exercise period. As you continue for up to 5 minutes, you will notice that all the muscles of the body are relaxed and that the powerful motion of the diaphragm itself becomes more and more effortless. A sense of clarity and electricity will begin to be felt expanding up from the legs and lower part of the body to the upper areas until you feel and expansion of this clarity and light filling the head and flowing out through the entire crown area, radiating around the body. Then inhale hold the breath, pull the locks, hold for 30 seconds or longer, then exhale squeezing all the breath out until the area below the navel contracts upwards. Keep the breath out in this way, without pulling the root lock, and all the energy will stabilize into this area and polarize. Then continue with the Breath Awareness Exercise, holding the breath in, then holding it out for 10 seconds after each inhalation and exhalation, while the cells of the body decontract, absorb the energy and begin to radiate.

Next comes spinal flex – camel ride. Again, you begin slowly. Sitting with legs crossed, holding the shins with your hands, then pulling the hands inwards, the spine arches straight and the neck comes into alignment stretching upwards in an easy neck lock. You will feel a releasing of energy all through the spine and flowing up through the top of the head, a clear, yet blissful sensation. After a few moments completely slouch the back, pressing the back arched spine back, stretching the nerves, muscles and ligaments that start to release their energy. Slowly come into the straight position, pulling the spine straight, and feel the released energy radiate upwards through the spine. Continue this slow motion several more times, then bring in the breath, inhaling to fill the lungs as you come straight, exhaling back, continuing slowly, feeling the radiance increasing even greater. At a certain point you will begin to feel the sensation in the spine of a will to vibrate more quickly, which in turn increases the power of the voltage being generated. In classes the teacher usually leads the movement until the power and speed is felt, then students continue on their own. Then inhale and hold the breath. Pull the locks, pressing the shoulders back, chest forward, suspending the breath 30 seconds, or longer. Then exhale, again, as previously squeezing all the air out until the area below the navel contracts upwards bringing about a polarization of the flow of prana (radiance) throughout the body field. Again continue with the Breath Awareness Exercise, as above, than sit still and relax, and feel the circulation and expansion of the radiance throughout the body, inside and eventually outside.

The exercises that follow are to open the moon channel and sun channel (the ida and pingala nadis). There are many variations, but here are 2 that open these channels in opposite ways.

The first is to come kneeling on the knees. Then extend the right leg straight to the right side. Then raise the arms up by the sides until they are stretched up, arms hugging the ears, with palms pressed together. The pelvis is pressed slightly forwards to keep a straight tension throughout the spine. Then begin very powerful Long Deep Breathing, completely expanding then contracting the lungs with every breath for 10 to 15 breaths, stretching the arms upwards with each inhalation. Then inhale, hold the breath for 10 to 15 seconds, pull the root lock, stretch the arms up, press the pelvis slightly forward and stretch the spine upwards. Feel the radiance fill the body, then slowly exhale, bringing the hands down in front of the kneed, bring the right foot back next to the left foot and come sitting back on the heels. Bring the spine straight, stretching the neck upwards, shoulders back slightly, chest forwards and wait. You will begin to feel a releasing of an electric current all along the left side of the spine, the moon channel, up through the back of the left side of the neck, up over the left side of the top of the head, to the point between the eyebrows. Wait, notice the flow of the energy, then release your attention and remain passive (negative mind meditation). The energy will begin to increase and expand all through the left side of the body, flowing upwards through the top of the head and around the left side of the body field. Just wait, maybe a minute or 3. Then repeat the same exercise, kneeling and extending the left leg out, arms stretched up, and so on to affect the sun channel to the right side of the spine.

The second part of this ida pingala / moon sun channel cleansing is again to come up in the kneed, but this time, you press the pelvis forward as far as possible, arching the spine back, pressing the shoulders back, expanding the ribcage forward, then arching the neck and head all the way back. Feel the radiance. Then slowly extend the left arm up stretching the arm and the fingers upwards, as though to reach for a lightning bolt. Then twist slightly to the right to put the right hand on the right heal, then over the right foot. Press the pelvis forwards more, extend the left arm and fingers upwards even further and begin the Breath of Fire for a minute. Then inhale deeply, hold the breath, pull the root lock, press the pelvis forwards, reach up, arch the spine more, feel the expansion in the chest area. Feel the energy radiance beginning to increase forcefully throughout the body field. Then slowly exhale, come sitting on the heels, hands resting on the thighs, spine straight. You will begin to feel a powerful radiance through the moon cannel, then expanding to all the organs on the right side of the leg, torso, neck and head, with energy flowing powerfully upwards. Wait.

After 2 to 4 minutes, feeling the radiance increasing, then balancing, you can repeat the same exercise extending the right arm up and left hand back to the left heal, to affect the sun channel.

Now that the ida and pingala are charges and balanced, the exercise that follows is to open the central canal (the sushumna) and the Heart, simple but powerful. I this exercise, simply sit cross-legged. Bring the arms behind the back with the hands clasped in Venus lock. Bring the spine straight, arms stretched straight, press the shoulders back to bring the shoulder blades together, expanding the chest forward. Now inhale deeply, then lean forwards keeping the head slightly up, leading with the heart, while stretching your arms up from the back as high as possible. Hold for a few seconds, then exhale coming straight, again pressing the shoulders back. And continue slowly 10 to 15 times, then when you come up, after inhaling down, this time inhale deeper, using all your strength to press the shoulders back, clasped hands pressing into the lower spine, neck extending and stretching upwards, pull the root lock and hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Exhale completely, inhale immediately remaining with the spine straight, again pressing the shoulders back, while pulling the root lock and neck lock 10 seconds. Repeat one more time, then very slowly exhale and bring th hands slowly around from behind the back to the knees. Relax the breath. You will begin to feel a surge of e pillar of light all through the spine, upward flowing through the top of the head, opening the central canal of the spine (the sushumna) and the Heart. Wait for 1 to 3 minutes until the radiance extends throughout the body through the top of the head and all through the aura.

The final preparation exercise is to open up the higher centers from the Heart to the brain and the arc line. This is a very simple exercise. Sitting cross-legged, you reach your arms up 90 degrees, palms facing eachother. Then begin to stretch the shoulders and arms back, arching the spine, opening the chest cavity. Stretch. Stretch the nick upwards and drop the head back slightly, as though to look between the up stretched arms and hands. Begin a powerful Breath of Fire for 3 to 5 minutes, all the while focused on the arching of the spine, stretching the arms and shoulders up and back, expanding the chest. You will feel the radiance begin to flow upwards through the neck and the chakras and governors in the brain and through the top of the head, possibly feelings of bhakti and purity filling the mind. Then inhale, pull the root lock and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly exhale bringing the hands to the knees and wait. You will feel the radiance expanding throughout the body and flowing upwards. Just apply the awareness to the flow, without direct attention, and the radiant flow will deepen and increase.

Try this series, as an example of what some might call a “warm up.” But in Kundalini Yoga, what in other yogas and sports is called a warm up, is a preparation of the body and mind for deep meditation on the radiance to be developed through every set, kriya and meditation.

There are variations of these after the Breath Awareness Exercise, but you are now ready to experience the full benefit of a Kundalini Yoga set, kriya and meditation.

In Kundalini Yoga practice, while the importance of stretching may be taught, the breathing and locks are somewhat different from hatha yoga practices, so it’s important to understand how to do them so that the energy flows easily and correctly.

 

The Active and Passive Aspects of Each Kundalini Yoga Exercise:

 

Finally, it is vitally important to understand that each kundalini yoga exercise has an active part and a passive part. In other yogas this is not the case. Each posture is a complete exercise in itself, whatever the series might be or whether in a series (like a karate karta) or single posture to corps pose.

But in Kundalini Yoga the purpose of the practice is to develop radiance (laya) and depth (pratyahar), which is only felt in other yogas much further along in their practice.

In Kundalini Yoga you are maximizing and working directly with all the systems of the body simultaneously – circulatory, pulmonary, endocrine, nervous etc. Each posture and movement brings about a pressure in a specific area or system of the body. This pressure means that the blood will saturate in that area. As powerful Kundalini Yoga breathing techniques are combined with the postures and movements, these areas put under pressure will have the strong effect of the purified and energized blood flow into that area. Initially, this means that these areas, where the capillaries and cells open under the pressure of the exercise, discharge their impurities and toxins in return for the vitality of the purified energized blood flow. Moreover, these same areas begin to build a charge – a voltage.

 

Now, here is the important part to remember:

The body is like a car battery, only with many batteries working together. In a car battery, there is water, and there are chemicals. As the chemicals are increased the voltage of the battery also increases – 3 volts, 6 volts, 12 volts, 24 volts, are a standard we can buy at any K-Mart. The body is mostly water, with some chemicals, whose secretion is the basis for the maintaining of voltage generated in the body. (This is why it is said: You are as young as your glands.

In the practice of other yogas, there is a gradual process in which the tensions and blockages of the body are reduced and the mind begins to become still. The process accelerates with increase practice and especially fasting and internal purification, such as (in the west) colonics (versus Nauli Kriya for cleaning the large intestine).

Then, as the energies of the body are used less and less towards the incessant pressure of thinking and identity encoding, imaging, impression taking and so on, there is a build up of unused kinetic energy, that begins to fill through the body, so that the body begins to lose its inertia, becoming satvic pure, transparent, blissful, easing into the ever-present oneness of the yogi’s surrounding.

Awareness to movement and eventually prana, as in Kundalini Yoga practice, is a key to the expansion of this kinetic energy in other yoga practices, what in Buddhist meditation and martial arts is called “Mindfulness.” This is because that simple awareness through which we experience the inner and outer world is really the light of the Infinite Being. When the mind becomes pure and still, this light of awareness, through which we experience the inner and outer world, sinks into its source, and illumination flashes forth.

In Kundalini Yoga, the posture/movement (always practiced with still awareness) combined with powerful breath creates this purification in various areas of the body directly, and with it comes an electrical charge to these areas. To support this electrical charge, and this is the very important point to remember in your Kundalini Yoga practice, the glands secrete very specialized chemicals. The charge or voltage generated directly impacts the glandular system causing the glands to secrete so that this charge may be sustained and maintained. Chemical electric pathways open. Once the active part of the Kundalini Yoga exercise is completed, the passive part begins. The reaction of the glandular and nervous system to the vitality of the bloodstream impacting the specific areas of pressure brought about through the posture or movement takes some time to complete. The time period depends on the duration of the exercise and other dynamics of the body’s ability to circulate the secreted chemicals.

Therefore, you have an active aspect of each Kundalini Yoga exercise and a passive aspect, which must be experienced for the exercise to achieve its full benefit!

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In the experience of the passive aspect of a Kundalini Yoga exercise, initially, there is the sensation of decontraction of the cells and muscles and ligaments in the area. Then comes the sensation of opening and radiance. Then the radiance begins to balance with all the other organs and cells of the body, strengthening the magnetic field of the whole body, bringing it into balance with the area affected in the exercise. And you begin to feel a previously impalpable sensation of “electric radiance” / “transparent electric” – which grows and expands (and brings about a deepening) through each progressing Kundalini Yoga exercise (and kriya) that make up a set, and then progressively building from set to set.

At the end of each set, usually before a meditation, we allow the body to go into a deep relaxation, yoga nidra, through which all the energies compacted in various areas of he body may finally release, merge, deepen, effecting an entire systemic new increased voltage plateau in the body, so that gradually you will become aware of the inner and outer radiance continuously.

In Kundalini Yoga, we usually diversify the sets practiced in order to bring about the opening of the cells, glands, organs, nerves and systems in every area of the body.

Typically, the passive part of a Kundalini Yoga exercise is as long as the active part, but what you are looking for is a sensation of the radiance circulating and rising through the body to the crown and beyond, which indicates the balancing of the electromagnetic field is complete.

Typically the Yoga Nidra is 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Purification of the subconscious:

 

The body is a mechanism that stores the impressions of who we think we are. (The body is like the hard drive for computer storage, versus the brain as the RAM/cache storage.) Because the impressions are stored in the body structure, we call it the subconscious. With Kundalini Yoga practice, the electric chemical balance of the voltage of the body increases to bring about a system wide vibratory frequency that is higher – more subtle – than the frequency of thought vibration, so that your sense of identity begins to become clearer and clearer, less linked to thought and sensation. No longer drawn to this or that reactive thought or imbedded compulsion, but open single clear awareness of the pervasiveness of consciousness throughout the body field (i.e., the ten bodies).

At the lower voltage level of the body, the mind’s focusing mechanism of attention needs to be used to see and know. It moves through the darkness (unawareness) of the body/mind field like a flashlight used to see on a dark night whose light grips each arising thought, sensation, impression in order to compare or merge with the sense of “I” inherent in the light. Sometimes more is seen. Like the waxing and waning of the moon cycles, the mind becomes brighter (feelings of love, compassion – satvic) and dimmer (feelings of hate, distrust, judgment – rajasic, tamasic).

Many people have no real sense or feeling of the energy radiance that pervades and sustains the body, i.e., their own life force, let alone that this force of Life is actually the Light and Life of the Infinite Being that denotes the single sense of “I” in the body. We focus to each part of the body and feel that part of the body.

But with Kundalini Yoga practice, in particular a daily morning sadhana, the overall voltage of the body begins to become the same as, even greater than, the voltage of the focusing mechanism of the mind……..

The result of this is that you begin to lose your experience of the need to focus, i.e., direct attention, as your awareness now simultaneously encompasses the whole body! You realize yourself to be the single seer of the whole body and the radiant field around, which you actually experience without focusing.

 

Kundalini Yoga practice includes the use of mantra and meditations.

 

Mantra in Kundalini Yoga is much different in effect and impact than with other yogas, because through the practice of what we might call the “Yoga of Light,” as described above, the “Yoga of Sound” is amplified. With the Yoga of Light, the whole body begins to resonate. When you add the Yoga of Sound, the sound amplifies throughout the body, and has the unique and special effect of integrating the energy that has been systematically stored from each Kundalini Yoga exercise. It’s like playing a regular guitar versus playing an electric guitar, where the reverberation increases with the amplitude of the voltage. But with Kundalini Yoga, the very use of the mantra also increases the amplitude of the voltage, so that you have a leveraged effect. Part of this is due to the effect of the sound causing a breakdown of subtle blockages of energy flow. Part has to do with the effect of releasing of energy stored in areas of the body from practicing Kundalini Yoga exercises. And, with the use of mantra, the glands also secrete to support and sustain the increasing voltage. You may practice a Kundalini Yoga set for an hour, and feel the radiance throughout your body and mind, and now you practice a mantra, and within 5 minutes the energy is so tremendously greater, and yet at the same time easy flowing and expanding, that there is no comparison.

While there are kriyas to benefit every part of the body and every aspect of the mind, and kriyas to activate the energy channels and control governors between the base of the spine and crown, there are also special kriyas and meditations to trigger the opening of the Spiritual Heart (not the anahata chakra) and the Pathway of the Self between the Spiritual Heart and the Crown. The Radiance felt here is both inward pulling and expansive, all absorbing and pushing out from within and between the atoms of the body. Time and space lose there meaning altogether. Stillness, radiance, pervasiveness, and all notions are relinquished.

Once you are able to “hear” the soundless pulsing of the “I as I,” the radiance takes on a different characteristic that inwardly reflects the Truth (Sat), giving the continuous sensation of Remembrance of your True Self single and pervasive and Abiding as That.

Kundalini Yoga meditations have a very specific purpose of opening the gate to the Infinite Spirit, which is to say, to subtly dissolve the remaining idea that the notional sense of “i” we feel as myself in the body is separate or different from the True “I” of which our notional “i” is only a reflection in the mind of the Temple of the True “I” in the Spiritual Heart.

As the mind becomes pure and satvic, there emerges a sense of a clear Force of Intelligence, that pervades the body field, but is felt initially in the area of the brain, wherein you feel the question arising, without a thought formation, of inquiry into where the sense of seeing arises. As the inner intensity increased, you feel a pulling force in your Heart (not the anahata chakra), initially like a magnet, and then like a graviton, transfixing the body and mind as one in Spirit, where inside and outside vanish, and “Everything is Whole” (YB)

Yogis call this force of intelligent awareness the budhi or discriminative faculty of the mind. The emergence of this discriminative faculty is because the mind is experienced to be radiant, clear, pervasive and still. Abiding in that stillness and pervasive field of radiance, which has no here or there focus, the experiencer Itself amplifies Its own Intelligence to ask “Who …? And suddenly something new happens, which we can call Yoga – Union. A Hearing, Recollection and Abiding. You hear and experience with a deep inner clarity that draws your sense of “i” powerfully inwards to a remembrance of who you are behind everything. Yogis call this experience Turya. You feel as though a sun is rising in the Heart, and with it that the moon of the mind is less and less needed to see and know, even though it may appear in the crystal blue sky. The notions of here and there become meaningless, and you abide in the recollection of your True Identity, the Ground of Being, as though coming out of an amnesia.

Initially, this “hearing” (sunia, sravana) is felt like a pulsing of “I as I” – like the striking of a tuning fork that reverberates as a soundless sound, or like a self-effulgent pervasive screen upon which everything emerges into appearance, only the images on the screen are seen from their perspective of the undifferentiated whole, and the idea of separateness simply dissolves from the conscious field.

In Kundalini Yoga, the evolutionary/involutionary practice taken as a whole is called One Star Spirituality, the One Star being the Reality in the Heart that expands Light of Being outward while drawing the self inward to abide as one’s True Self. The True Guru within us is experienced as sound and light that subtly draws us inward to awaken to our whole Self.

While Kundalini Yoga is not a religion, with daily practice the words in the spiritual texts of all religions will be heard, and you will feel the force of your True Self awakening to the meaning within the sound of the words, like being called from a sound sleep.

All this to say that, if a daily sadhana is taken up and you practice the breathing and locks properly, and you practice each Kundalini Yoga exercise, kriya, mantra and meditation understanding that with every active part there is an equally important (more important) passive part, then fear, imbalance, and everything related will pass and you will experience your True Whole Self.

“Wait, be patient,relax, consolidate integrate, be You…” Yogi Bhajan

gesturing-speaking

Just practice, practice the right way, and keep up, and “everything that is good will come to you.” (YB) Sat Nam

Pieter Schoonheim Samara with his daughter

pieter

Pieter has traveled a long and fascinating spiritual path, having close contact with and studying under Yogi Bhajan. He lives in Thailand with his family, where he teaches Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. You can find more of Pieter’s articles at the following link:

https://luthar.com/kundalini-yoga/

Recipes

corn

Our recipes page is meant to whet the appetite for vegetarian/vegan cooking. Online resources are available to find just what you are looking for and sometimes to find something new and different. Any of the recipes that include dairy or eggs can be modified. There are many soy products which include milk, butter, yogurt, and a wide variety of cheeses and can be used in place of the dairy kind. There are several substitutes for eggs, including egg replacers which you can find in most health food stores.

Egg Substitutes

[Courtesty of HSUS and PETA]
A popular egg substitute is Ener-G egg replacer, which is make from potato starch, tapioca flour, leavening agents (calcium lactate, calcium carbonate, and citric acid) and a gum derived from cottonseed. It’s primarily intended to replace the leavening/binding characteristics of eggs in baking, but it can be used for nonbaked foods and quiches.

Use to Replace Eggs (quantity is per egg substituted for) …

2 oz of soft tofu can be blended with some water to add consistency

2 oz. of mashed beans, mashed potatoes, or nut butters

1/2 mashed banana

1/4 cup applesauce or puréed fruit

One Tbsp. flax seeds (found in natural food stores) with 3 Tbsp. water can be blended for 2 to 3 minutes, or boiled for 10 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.

1 tsp. soy flour plus 1 Tbsp. water

Use to Replace Butter (in recipes)…

Soy margarine

7/8 cup canola or corn oil = 1 cup butter

Sauté instead in wine or vegetable broth.

Use lemon as a dressing

Amma’s Kitchen

315

From Bhagavad Gita 4.24 and 15.14

Brahmaarpanam Brahma Havir
Brahmaagnau Brahmanaa Hutam
Brahmaiva Tena Gantavyam
Brahma Karma Samaadhinaha

[This is 24th verse from the 4th chapter of Bhagavad Geetha] The act of offering is Brahman. The offering itself is Brahman. The offering is done by Brahman in the sacred fire which is Brahman. He alone attains Brahman who, in all actions, is fully absorbed in Brahman. (As we chant this prayer we are offering the different types of food to Brahman).

Aham Vaishvaanaro Bhutva
Praaninaam Dehamaashritha
Praanaapaana Samaa Yuktaha
Pachaamyannam Chatur Vidam

[This is 14th verse from the 15th chapter of Bhagavad Geetha] This sloka is a sort of acknowledgement and assurance to us from Brahman. “I am Vaishnavara, existing as fire God in the bodies of living beings. Being associated with ingoing (prana) and outgoing (apaana) life breaths, I will digest all the four different types of food (that which we bite and chew; that which we masticate with the tongue; those which we gulp; that which we swallow) and purify them.”

Harir Daatha Harir Bhoktha
Harir Annam Prajaapatih
Harir Vipra Shareerastu
Bhoonkte Bhojayathe Harih.

Oh Lord Hari, You are the food, You are the enjoyer of the food, You are the giver of food. Therefore, I offer all that I consume at Thy Lotus Feet.

Bobby G…

Mardis Gras Beans Hermit Chili

Coming soon…

Carrot Rice Moong dal with brocolli Balti potatoes

Advaita and Western Neo-Advaita-A Study: By Alan Adam Jacobs

entrance

‘If the blind lead the blind
both shall fall into the ditch.’
(Matt. 15:14,15)

We must be grateful to Dennis Waite and his excellent book, with its appendix, for sharply bringing this whole question to our attention. There can be no doubt that Dennis Waite’s ‘The Book Of One’ is a worthy introduction to the Ancient Teaching of Advaita. In a clear and erudite manner he summarizes the main points of this Great Philosophy and Spiritual Teaching. The book is in Sections with subsidiary chapters elucidating the chief principles. The Main Section Titles are as follows: The Unreal, The Spiritual Path, and the Real. The subsidiary 18 chapters within these Sections cover, amongst others, such topics as What I Am Not, the Nature of Man, What We Think We Can Know, Meditation, Appearance and Reality, Consciousness, the Nature of Self, Realisation, and the Direct Path.

Dennis Waite is a respected member of the Ramana Foundation UK, and there are many useful references to the Maharshi’s Teachings in the text. He has studied the subject for over fifteen years and has a working knowledge of Sanskrit. The book is definitely to be recommended for those who need a succinct overview to the whole Teaching in one medium size volume. It is easy to read and surveys the philosophy competently in an even handed way. This part of the book can well be regarded as a sound and valuable introduction to the whole field.

There is, however, a long Appendix of 24 pages packed with information on current Western Advaita Organisations, International Internet Sites, and a Reading List. This part of the book and the names contained in it raises an interesting and perplexing question of what exactly is happening to the hallowed and revered Teaching of Advaita in the Western World?

Many firm devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi now rightly term this Western phenomenon as ‘Neo-Advaita’. The term is carefully selected because ‘neo’ means ‘a new or revived form’. And this new form is not the Classical Advaita which we understand to have been taught by both of the Great Self Realised Sages, Adi Shankara and Ramana Maharshi. It can even be termed ‘pseudo’ because, by presenting the teaching in a highly attenuated form, it might be described as purporting to be Advaita, but not in effect actually being so, in the fullest sense of the word. In this watering down of the essential truths in a palatable style made acceptable and attractive to the contemporary western mind, their teaching is misleading .

Let us examine this thesis in more detail. There are a great many so-called Advaita or Non-Dual Teachers both in Europe, America and Australasia. Dennis Waite lists numerous organisations, Internet sites, and modern books, many of which fall under this category. New teachers calling themselves ‘Awakened’ appear frequently. They are often long standing ex-students of the late Raj Neesh, or people who visited Lucknow with H.L.Poonja.

Obviously, styles, personalities, emphases, delineations, and content vary considerably. But there are enough common threads to identify this tendency as ‘Neo-Advaita’. First of all, the teaching are mainly presented by question and answer at meetings called ‘Satsangs’. The teacher invites questions, and then answers them in his or her own particular way. There is no overview of the basic Advaita principles. So those who attend are left with no full understanding of the complete bases on which the Teaching stands. One is dependent on what is said there and then; after many visits, which have to be paid for, one may appreciate what the self-appointed teacher is attempting to ‘put over’. The books they have published are in the main just edited transcripts of these ‘satsangs’, and are also often incomplete.

There is no doubt that many of these men and women in most cases are attractive, talented, gifted communicators. They often have a certain charisma and an intelligent quick wit. They handle concepts from an intellectual standpoint with dexterity and are often entertaining in an idiosyncratic way. Many seekers develop a psychological dependency on one favourite teacher; others move from one to another hoping to pick up some truth which will help them in their quest. But these satsangs tend to be fragmented, so many teachers and meetings need to be visited and this can lead to confusion. There is generally a lack of experiential understanding of the Real Self and its Power as deep, silent, unconditional love. When the vasanas are strong and rajistic even such rare glimpses may not happen at all.

Stated briefly, what has happened is that an advanced teaching pointer, normally give to the Sadhak by a fully Self Realised Guru, Jivan Mukta or Jnani, has been taken over as the preliminary step and is now given ‘piecemeal’ to any new adept. The suggestion that no further effort is necessary is only stated when the Sadhak has reached the point where effort is no longer possible .The mark of the true Guru is that peace, Love and Silence are palpably felt in his presence. What Neo-Advaita gives in fact boils down to the seductive formula that ”there is nothing you can do or need to do, all you have to know is that there is no one there.”

That the mind is a bundle of thoughts ,and that there is no entity called ‘me’ is ancient Upanishadic teaching, and not a new revelation as some purport. Paradoxically, and for a reason difficult to explain, all of the leading International Neo-Advaita teachers have themselves engaged in spiritual practices of one kind or another, sometimes over a long period, then they deny this necessity to their pupils.

The suggestion by the Neo-Advaitins that effort builds up the Ego giving it a sense of pride in its ability to meditate is only true in a small number of eccentric cases. In fact, the effort of developing one pointedness leading to Self Enquiry in order to discover the source of the ‘phantom me’, the root of all thoughts and feelings, actually undermines this recalcitrant ‘egotistical ghost’. Effort can give some modicum of necessary mind control, and one pointed attention. By sidelining Self Enquiry and treating it as an idea rather than a practice along with Devotion and the support practices for Self Enquiry, the student is left in a comfortable conceptual mental zone where it is stated cosily that ‘there is nothing to do and nowhere to go’. One can park in this space forever, coming once a month and paying for another satsang, hoping Grace will descend. It is like trying to win a major lottery prize, without ever having bought the ticket of turning deeply and persistently inward and enquiring into the source of the ‘phantom me’. Friendships are often made and a lifestyle developed which is psychologically rewarding. Retreats and intensives are held.

The charge is made that effort is trying to ‘get something’ and therefore suspect as coming from the ‘me’. In fact, the ‘ghost of the me’ doesn’t really exist as an entity. The notion of ‘the false me’ is very powerfully fuelled subconsciously by the selfish-will and compounded by the vital force. It has to be diligently enquired into to be destroyed. The Maharshi says emphatically that our only freedom as an ajnani is to turn inwards. It is not trying ‘to get something.’ It is rather trying to ‘get rid of something’, the sense of separation, i.e. identification with the thoughts, mind, and feelings. Otherwise, there is a permanent occlusion, the Granthi Knot, permanently screening off the tremendous power of the Real Self, which is the Absolute Unborn Deathless Consciousness, God, Unconditional Love, Dynamic Silence, and Oneness. Instead, the Neo-Advaitin pupil merely basks in his or her Reflected Consciousness, designated as follows: ‘All there is, is perfect, whatever manifests.’ The clear distinction between Absolute and Relative consciousness is not made, and possibly may not even be known about.

To summarise, the main Neo-Advaitin fallacy ignores the fact that there is an occlusion or veiling formed by the vasanas, samskaras, bodily sheaths and vrittis, and there is a Granthi Knot forming an identification between Self and mind which has to be severed . If this were not the case then the whole of humanity would be living from Absolute Consciousness. As it is, humanity still lives from Reflected Consciousness, including the Neo-Advaitin Teacher with his or her active vasanas, still identified with the mind. In effect Neo-Advaita gives the ego licence, without attenuation, to live on under the justification of a seductive, hedonistic argument.

The Maharshi’s remedy to this whole trap is persistent effective Self Enquiry, and/or Complete Unconditional Surrender of the ‘phantom ego’ to Self or God, until the Granthi Knot is severed, the Vasanas, Samskaras and Vrittis come out, and are rendered harmless like a burned out rope. Support practices and directions are given for those who find Self Enquiry too difficult to commence. Partial surrender is possible for all, leading to total surrender through Grace consequent on efforts made through earnest one pointedness. In his foundation Essay, Self Enquiry {Collected Works}, Bhagavan clearly draws a diagram which shows how the Ego, composed of thoughts, bodily sheaths, and tendencies, forms a mirrorisation which reflects Pure Absolute Consciousness through the door of the senses onto the world as Reflected Consciousness.

The Neo-Advaitin often says somewhat wryly that Awakening is actually very ordinary and nothing special. Obviously it will appear ‘grey’ if vasanas are still active. How can living in Sahaja Samahdi and from Absolute Consciousness with unconditional love, great peace and dynamic silence abounding, be called ‘ordinary’ ? For the Neo-Advaitin teacher, there is a process of cleverly intellectually deconstructing the ‘sense of doership’ or the ‘false sense of me’ or ‘phantom ego’ which can, if performed intensively, lead to an experience, usually temporary, that there is ‘nobody there’ and even making the sense of doership temporarily disfunctional. This is then termed as ‘ an awakening has happened’ or some such hyperbole and the aspirant rests content and may even develop a desire to teach the same technique to others. The subtle part of the ego believes itself to be ‘enlightened’ but the vasanas are still active, so the awakening is conceptual, and possibly imagined, rather like the ‘born again’ experience in evangelical Christianity. No Jnani ever claims to be Enlightened. It remains for others to recognise his qualities. To say ‘I am enlightened’ is a contradiction as the I which would make such an assertion is the ‘I’ which has to be destroyed before Enlightenment can happen.

The Neo-Advaita teacher is still talking from the mind in reflected Consciousness not from the ‘no mind’. To claim to have awakened others prematurely in this tentative way then becomes further proof of a teacher’s ability. This builds up a false sense of expectation in the mind of the naive and gullible adherents that they may become awakened too, if they are lucky. This then becomes a vocation, and in many cases a very successful means of earning a livelihood. Pupils gravitate to the teacher with this kind of agenda which confirms what he or she wants to believe, that no effort is needed. The result is that the Teacher, still living from the ordinary mind, with vasanas active, can never go back on the promise that he is ‘awakened’ and therefore forfeit the right to teach. That the vasanas have been accumulated and consolidated in previous ‘life dreams’ is not examined, and if raised, the teachings about ‘samsara’ , ‘maya’ , jiva, karma and re-birth, are often considered too metaphysical to explain or grasp. They are invariably dismissed as old superstitions. Teaching from the ‘no mindstate’ or ‘silence of the Sage’ can never happen while the powerful vasanas are active. They have to die down and become harmless, and this means self-enquiry and surrender, until the mind, through Grace, when the Real Self recognises the Jiva with a one pointed mind, has fully turned inwards. The nervous system has been prepared and The Self then draws the mind into the fully opened Heart. This is Self Realisation.

Many of the teachers claim Ramana Maharshi as their lineage, often displaying his photo prestigiously, but are not at all erudite in his Teaching. Often the Teaching is stripped of its devotional content. Some merely pass over him and are content to be the sole authority. To give ‘satsang’ in Arunachala gives some Teachers added credence. How has this fundamental fallacy come about? Why is it so attractive to mostly young contemporary Westerners, that they are content to by-pass Self Enquiry, Devotion and the Surrender of the ‘false self’ or ‘ego’ to the Real Self or God, and so hand over all the cares and responsibilities of their lives, with great faith, before entering the spiritual life?

This advanced teaching of ‘no effort needed’ drawn from advanced Advaita and Cha’an Buddhism [the Sudden Awakening School] has slipped in as the fundamental Neo-Advaita pointer. It is then easy for the radically skeptical Western mind to accept this lazy way in our micro wave culture of wanting instant gratification now, instead of having to work at studying the Teachings of the great Sources of the contemporary Advaita Renaissance, Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, Adi Shankara and other great Sages. Nor do they need to develop some power of attention and concentration. Nor does Hindu terminology have to be understood, and the traditional language assimilated even in translation. This demands study and effort. The making of an effort can arise without a sense of personal doership just as one makes efforts in life spontaneously when needed, from the vital energy. It is said that we are utterly helpless and there is nothing we can do, but this ignores the All powerful Self and the Grace which starts to flow as a response to the initial and persistent effort of Self Enquiry and Surrender. The idea that this ‘awakening’ may not be immediate does not appeal to the current desire for materialistic instant satisfaction. Hedonism, without pain, dominates Western culture, religious values are at a low ebb, and a humanistic teaching is much more appealing.

Besides it lets the Teacher off the hook. He can dispense with advising on Sadhana altogether. Peace and quiet is preferable to Sadhana as the prerequisite for Enlightenment. This has a therapeutic value. In addition the idea of a ‘living Teacher ‘is appealing. It is not understood that the Supreme Guru, the Jivan Mukti who has left the body, is still available both in the Heart as the Sat-Guru within or as Absolute Consciousness, the Deathless Unborn Self, beyond the mind. But to reach the Sat-Guru inwardly needs the effort of turning inwards and this is not a popular word to use, although effort is applicable in every other walk of life. The Neo-Advaitins claim there is no one there to make any effort. This is absurd. The energy for the wish for liberation arises and the intelligent part of the ‘phantom ego’ begins Self Enquiry and its support practices leading to one pointedness. If there was no one there to make effort, how does any work get achieved on this planet at all? Self Enquiry needs preparation, as David Frawley has pointed out in his excellent books on Advaita and articles in the Mountain Path. Self Enquiry may not yield an immediate perceivable result. It commences a graceful process of removing the obstacle of obscuration to the Realisation of the Real Self. To borrow metaphors from the Gospels, the Kingdom of Heaven within is the pearl of great price. It has to be earned by earnest enquiry and surrender. The real purpose of Life in this birth is not merely to enjoy oneself in sensual pleasure but to summon the necessary effort to remove the phantom ego’s sense of separation and identification with the mind, thoughts feelings and body. “If the blind lead the blind both shall fall into the ditch.” It is truly a marvel of Maya that some Neo-Advaita teachers can state personal views which suggest that their knowledge is more profound than that of the Maharshi.

It must be said that this Essay is a generalisation based on visiting the many Neo-Advaita teachers who come to or are resident in London, and seeing videos of others in the USA and elsewhere. My criticisms do not apply equally to all. Each one has his or her own emphases, angularities, and delineations, but the basic thrust of my reservations are generally applicable.

However, Neo-Advaita, no matter how faulty and incomplete, has a distinct advantage. It can serve as an introduction to the true Advaita Teaching. Flawed as Neo-Advaita may be, it undermines ‘the phantom ego’ intellectually at least, after several satsangs. At its best it is a partial surrender , but without full devotional content, and therefore cannot lead to total surrender when the mental occlusion is absorbed in the Heart . One can only accept that the Neo-Advaitin movement with its proliferating teachers and burgeoning web sites is here to stay, although some have prophesised that the tide is beginning to turn and that many are now beginning to earnestly enquire into Ramana’s Teaching. Nevertheless, Neo-Advaita is a necessary part of ‘what is’ and as an aspect of the divine plan has its place as a preliminary introduction. It is therefore a valid, if imperfect stepping stone, for those who are ready and mature enough to walk on to true Advaita, instead of just reclining half way up the Mount Arunachala.

Allow Sri Bhagavan to have the last word on this question….”There must be human effort to discard them [vasanas]….how could God be expected to be favourable towards you without your striving for it'” [Letters pg 151].

alan
Life is a pure flame, and we live
by an invisible Sun within us.

Alan Jacobs is Chairman of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK , A Moderator of Ramana Maharshi and Atma Vichara at Yahoo Groups, author of The Bhagavad Gita a Poetic Transcreation and The Principal Upanishads A Poetic Transcreation . He is also a professional Life Coach. You can find his website at www.creativelifecoaching.org

This article published with permission from The Mountain Path.
Image of entrance to Virupaksha Cave courtesy of Gabriele Ebert.

Bobby G’s Mardi Gras Beans and Rice: By Bobby Graham

rize

Now Cher, at Mardi Gras, you want to be sure to get some nutrition without dat unwanted bloating and sluggish crawfish feeling you can get from all dem rich Nu’Awlins high class fixin’s. I am told by my nutritionist dat beans complements rice in supplying a lot of amino acids. So even if it ain’t Mardi Gras and you got to go out to check da traps or whatever, dis here will fix y’all up, Cher.

Take one pound of red beans (kidney shaped) or pintos and soak ’em for a few hours, maybe overnight, den drain em. If you don’t presoak then just add another hour of cookin time.

In a bean-filled cooker add two level teaspoons a salt and enough water to cover the beans about a inch. Now I put more salt in mine, cause dat’s a lot of beans.

Cover and cook on low heat a hour. Then add six bay leaves. (The good ones if you please). That good bay leaf flavor start coming out on low heat, Cher, so keep a very slow boil.

Do not, I repeat do not, put any onions in the pot with the beans. It will influence the spices we gonna add in a negatory fashion.

Oh yeah, keep checkin and adding water so it’s over dem beans, Cher. So go on and cook another hour until you can smell dem beans and dat sauce is a little brown.

Put in the spices now. I used to put in a lot of different ones until I read the label on something call ‘Curry’. It had my spices in it already. So that’s what I use now but I put in a couple of pinches of dill seeds too because I like pickle.

How much curry spice you say, Cher?

One rounded (not heaping) teaspoon. Now you want to add two tablespoons of hot sauce and quarter teaspoon black pepper to invite reluctant taste buds to open up. Some people put in two tablespoons of vegetable oil or butter to give it a greasy look or should I say, to make it more visually enticing? You see what I mean when you ladle it over dat rice.

Start your rice. I use the brown stuff.

Stir in da spices good and cook another hour makin’ sure dem beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and boin. That is three hours of cookn in all, but I got a friend that learned from Paul Prudhomme when he was cookin at the Maison De’Puy over on Dauphine, and he simmers his all day. I tell you I get hungry smelling dem beans and can’t wait.

So anyways, that sauce is gonna be good and thick if you don’t put too much water in. But boinin’ is out of the question. You can’t tell by lookin at the boilin’ pot if you have too much water because dem beans float to the top.

mardi gras

So, anyways, figger it out so they’s actually about a half of a inch of water over dem beans when they not floatin. That sauce be good and thick, Cher, and it soak dat rice in a flavor worthy of Mardi Gras Kings and Queens. Beans is da simplest of foods and the most noble. It ain’t hard, so bon appetit and laissez les bon temps roulez. Cher.

Love
Bobby G.

P.S. It is common to have some fresh French bread and margarine to eat with it and sop it up. Hot sauce-add a lot too. Umm umm umm.

Bob Graham

Bob Graham is a long time contributor to both the HarshaSatsangh and NondualitySalon mailing lists. He is an established painter. His paintings can be seen in the Spring 2002 edition of HarshaSatsangh Magazine.

Where Did the Ten Pounds of Flesh Go? By Antoine Carre

1

About seven years ago, I went to bed one night after an ordinary day, only to wake up two hours later with ten pounds less on my body. This represented 5.4% of my initial weight. I did not urinate, defecate or vomit during that two hour sleep period. Perspiration was normal. So where did the ten pounds of flesh go?

Science has no explanation for it. In some extreme cases, the flesh-eating bacteria may cause such a loss in such a small period of time. The flesh-eating bacteria simply transform the flesh into scrap. But I didn’t have these bacteria; there was no scrap, my body was intact. I simply lost ten pounds of weight, while sleeping, in less than two hours. Where did it vanish? Go wonder…

The next day, just to play it safe, I went for a medical exam, knowing my life was not in danger (at that point in the morning). Except for the ten missing pounds, and this look of death I had on my face, all was OK, according the generalist doctor.

From a more subjective point of view, here is a bit more of what led up the ten pounds weight loss. During that period I was exploring, and pushing, for fun, the programming done in deep sleep, mostly in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) states. In those two hours of sleep, the elephant of my waking consciousness was going to walk on the so-subtle world of the ants. My waking consciousness was going to try to have a dialogue with the unconscious life of my individual cells. (Still laughing at myself here.)

During that same period, I had been exploring ways to merge with others on the body level from a distance–mostly with my beloved of that period, with whom the “tuning” was deeper than our consciousness was aware. And there was the remaining influence felt from Wing Chun Kung Fu, which worked deeply with the power of attention and the body on many levels.

So that night I went to bed, allowing, as I had been doing for a year then, for all the cells of my body to resonate with those of another person, living on the other side of the continent. I got more and more attuned to that person, knowing when she was sad, happy, healthy, or less healthy, etc. Not just knowing—literally feeling.

The problem, that night, was that the person with whom I got attuned had gone into a focused meditation with someone else. I did not know this would happen so I did not retract my attention from merging with someone else, before going to sleep.

My body was not as well-attuned on a cell level to that of the third person involved. It’s then that what happened, happened. I woke up in a dream inside the REM state, my body completely paralyzed. And from that state of consciousness, I could watch the conflict occur on the DNA vibration level, meeting another one with which I was not in tune. I lost ten pounds–pfffff!—it simply vanished into thin air. Not in a few hours, but in a few seconds. The act of my day-to-day consciousness looking at the DNA vibration of the cells brought this on almost instantly. On the objective side, I know I weighed ten pounds more before going to sleep than when I woke up. My scales were there to testify to it. But on the subjective level, I am sure they were lost just in the few seconds of waking up.

With a great inner struggle, I was able to come out of the paralyzed state in Rapid Eye Movement, which stopped the process of ‘disintegration’ (I never could think of a Name for that experience). To give an image, I felt as if I was caught in a completely sealed room, with the energy inside equivalent to a nuclear reaction. Each cell of the body felt as if it wanted to burst open, liberating all its energy.

Waking up, I had to go deep within to stop this process of disintegration. I had to find a deep calm within, behind the cells, behind the atomic structure, behind my body-mind, to show it the peace of a night sky, with no super nova in it.

Maybe this process of body ‘disintegration’ is tied to the process used in the story of Jesus or Milarepa after their death, when they dissolve their body in thin air. I don’t really know. And I don’t seek to understand it, really. Maybe it’s tied to Shri Aurobindo saying someplace, something like, “the ego of humankind is opening faster and faster, but gradually and integrally. Yet just open the ego of a cell and it will explode.”

It took me two months to regain my normal weight. Since then, I stopped merging with others over distance. I learned to respect the ego-body of each. I also learned, from experimenting with it, that the body is just a projection of the mind. A nice one, I might say, a divine temple, but a projection nonetheless.

Humbly,

Antoine


Text edited by Jill Eggers.




Mazie Lane responds…Hey, Where’d I Go?

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Dearest Antoine,

This strange and unbelievable phenomenon happened to me and my body, too, back in the mid-eighties. I was at a get-together of the Self-Realization Fellowship devotees, disciples and students of Paramahansa Yogananda, my Gurudeva.

I was about twenty or more pounds over-weight at the time, that being about 142 pounds. The day was normal-I ate normally, acted normally; in other words, nothing un-normal happened that would lead me to suspect something like this was about to happen.

Of course, there were the deep meditations, the kirtans and the lectures, and the also the films preserved of Yoganandaji in them, but that was not unusual for me.

I went to bed that night in the hotel room, a room I shared with a friend from France, Enid Moine who lived at the time in Poitiers. When I awoke, something “felt” different, I felt, well, lighter. I could not believe my eyes nor my hands touching and exploring and saying, “Hey, where’d I go?”

Where I did go was to the floor with the gym and I weighed in. What astonishment, even after realizing that something was entirely different… seeing by the numbers right before my eyeballs bugging out – I had lost overnight while sleeping, over twenty pounds. I am seriously telling you that this is exactly what happened.

Thanks, Antoine, for bringing this up and recalling back to my mind, the same kind of weird and wonderful experience with body/mind bringing out the stops and somehow, wow, just dissolving it.

Love,

Mazie

Antoine Carre has been a member of HarshaSatsangh for many years. He lives in Canada. You can find his website at http://www3.sympatico.ca/antoine.carre/

“All spiritual teachings are only meant to make us retrace our steps to our Original Source.” From The Essential teachings of Ramana Maharshi, A visual Journey.
http://www3.sympatico.ca/antoine.carre/maharshi.htm

Click here for Mazie Lane’s Photography and bio.

What is the Nature of Light? By Joyce Know_Mystery

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A few years ago, I had a damaged heart and was about to have a stent implanted during cardiac catheterization. At the time I was enrolled in a study of a new treatment to prevent arteries from closing up after surgery (as they so often tend to do) at Mass General Hospital. The new process used a tiny probe with a tiny laser threaded into the heart to do this.

I did a lot of research about heart damage and treatment options and alternatives to the surgery before agreeing to participate. I learned that not a lot of research had been done using women, and the statistics showed that successful outcomes for women were significantly worse than those for men.

Men experience heart symptoms at a younger age than do women, and when women have symptoms, they are often of a different sort. Doctors often don’t consider heart disease when women’s symptoms first occur, which means that women are often initially given the wrong diagnosis and the wrong treatment.

While our spiritual heart is infinite in size, and boundless, women’s physical hearts are significantly smaller than men’s (unless they have become enlarged from disease). The surgical instruments have been designed for use on the larger male hearts and circulatory system, and that may also have a bearing on the poorer outcomes for women and children.

Before concluding that the surgery was necessary, the doctors did many tests – from EKG to echocardiogram to thallium nuclear imaging (cardiac SPECT) to stress tests (which they had to stop when abnormal EKG signs showed up), and others over a period of many weeks. The assorted tests were done by different doctors – not just from one medical practice – and they all showed significant artery damage (and a small valve problem).The language on the results of the thallium SPECT scan used the word “massive” to describe the effects of the blockage. All the doctors interpreting the tests agreed that surgery was necessary. I obtained second and third and fourth opinions.

So there I was – the research showed worse outcomes for women and a significant chance that even with a stent the artery would close up again and it would need to be removed and replaced in time – sometimes as early as 6 months. And the research also showed that an inadequate amount of information was available on women’s heart disease and treatment because most of the research had been done on men. And there I was, with all of these Harvard doctors saying there was no choice for me but to have the surgery. And there I was reading about the possible complications – the worst being an adverse cardiac event, a euphemism for sudden death in the consent forms to enroll for the test of the new procedure.

For me, the decision was pretty straightforward – I decided to go ahead and participate in the experimental trial of the cardiac cath with laser light, despite the risks.

Why?

It was an opportunity to serve other women. It was an opportunity to contribute whatever my heart would tell them to the body of research into heart disease… to do “something” about the fact that the bulk of the research involves the male heart by adding my heart to their studies.

I remember the first time I saw a laser demonstration years ago. One night, I watched as they aimed a laser beam from a big laser in our high school parking lot out across the highway to a target on a hill a mile away. And now they are aiming laser beams from within the arteries of our hearts, using the focused light to heal.

I did a quick search on BrainBoost to find out when lasers were invented. What I found was this:

1958: Arthur L. Schawlow and Charles H. Townes invent the laser, then publish “Infrared and Optical Masers” in the American Physical Society’s Physical Review. The paper describes the basic principles of the laser, initiating this new scientific field.”

In 1958, lasers were considered “a new scientific field”, and now they are accepted, taken for granted and used widely. Before1958, if someone said that one day doctors could thread a wire with a healing light beam from an incision in your groin up into your heart … would anyone have believed them?

About the outcome of that cardiac adventure? I am still here. In fact, I have a healthy heart – only a couple of electrical problems, but no coronary artery disease today.

And this is a true story:

The day of the surgery, I was all prepped and waiting my turn there on the gurney in the catacombs underneath Mass General, electrodes all over, watching the EKG monitor and the pattern of the green lines and meditating to maintain calm. I was focusing on the idea of “the incredible healingness of light” – it had been a sort of mantra I used for a couple of weeks before then, and I had written about it in my journal letters.

After a while, an intense heat erupted from deep within and I could feel an enormous glowing in my chest, around my heart. There was a profound flushing sensation unlike any I have experienced before or since and my skin from my face to my torso turned bright red, as though I had been exposed to direct sunlight for hours and had a bad sunburn.

The doctors and nurses gathered around and looked at my skin so red and so hot and said “no surgery for you” until whatever is going on stops. That was in the morning. They kept me there and watched. And I kept on with the mantra.

By around 3:30 that afternoon, my skin color was back to normal and they again prepped me for the procedure and wheeled me into the OR. They turned on the overhead monitor – like an old fashioned black and white CRT for a computer – so I could watch. They gave me some morphine for the pain but no sedation. They injected a dye so the circulatory system inside the heart could be seen and then threaded the guide wire up into my heart from a tiny incision in my groin. I watched the wire snaking it’s way up through my upper chest and then into my heart.

And there on the overhead monitor, the two doctors and I saw it at the same time – a healthy heart… no blockages at all, no clogged arteries.

There are things that I have experienced in life that I believe show traces of the hand of God and the beauty and mystery of the universe. Giving birth to my daughter. The sense of connection with “all that is” that I have known standing on the hill watching meteors. Staring eye to eye with that beautiful grey heron last month. And looking inside my own beating heart on that monitor…

So what happened? How could a heart which was diagnosed with a massive blockage suddenly appear healthy and whole? Was the initial diagnosis wrong? We’ve all looked at this.

The fact is that ALL of the standard diagnostic tests pointed to the same thing. It would be easy to say it was a misdiagnosis if one or two of the tests were wrong, but what are the odds that ALL of them were wrong?

The fact is that ALL of the tests were performed over a series of several weeks. If they had all been performed at around the same time, maybe some sort of transient condition had happened and then resolved itself. But what are the odds that separate tests performed over an extended time period and consistently reflecting the same results are ALL wrong?

The fact is that ALL of the tests were performed by different physicians at different facilities and none of them had been informed of the results of any of the other tests by their colleagues, so they could not have been influenced by each other’s diagnoses. My primary care doctor coordinated the assorted tests. What are the odds that doctors at different facilities working independently came up with the same results and they were ALL wrong?

The doctors never did come up with an explanation for how they ALL could have been mistaken. I don’t think they were mistaken, myself. I saw the test results – the EKG strips while they were being done and also afterwards. I saw the images from the echocardiogram. I saw the pics from the nuclear SPECT test. And so did all the doctors afterwards. What we saw there appeared to be real and present.

What do I think explained the suddenly healthy state of my heart? I think it is this: “the incredible healingness of light.”

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joyce know_mystery is an activist and poet and nature photographer. She is a contributing editor to NDHighlights, and some of her poetry and photos can be found on the Deep_Well forum. She is frequently in residence on the HolyGeek forum, home of Spiritual Computing. She has been a practitioner of Vipassana meditation since the early 80s and experienced a profound epiphany in 1983. An admitted astronomy geek, she has said about watching meteor showers “I’m a sucker for the moon and the stars…At moments like that, I’m inevitably drawn to thoughts of people throughout the ages staring heavenward at the mystery unfolding. I feel irrevocably connected with the universe in a way more profound than any religious experience inside any church building.” She lives near Boston, where she works in publishing and talks with the herons and hawks and other things with wings.

Photographs courtesy of Joyce Sweinberg