The Importance of removing Self-Violence in practice of Ahimsa

The weak can never forgive

Dear Harsha,

I would like to share my current thoughts on Ahimsa, the Indian Philosophy of Nonviolence advocated by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King.

As I look around me at the high school shootings, bombings of embassies, and wars going on all over the world, I can’t avoid looking at Ahimsa. The state of the world is obviously a manifestation of the current level of consciousness and I believe that until we raise the level of consciousness, wars and violence will continue. Continue reading

On Prayer-From the Words of Mahatma Gandhi by Swami Sadasivananda

From a post by Swami Sadasivananda on


“If we had attained the full vision of Truth,
we would no longer be mere seekers,
but have become one with God, for truth is God…
Prayer has saved my life.
Without it I should have been a lunatic long ago.”

“The meaning of prayer is that I want to invoke the Divinity in me. You may describe it as a continual longing to lose myself in the Divinity which compels us all. Prayer really is a complete meditation and melting into the higher Self, though one may occasionally lapse into it, as a child would call out to its mother “Ah, Ma!” In such an instance, the greater the distance between the child and its Mother, the greater the longing within the heart of the child. Thus, in the mind of the child, the Mother is present in thought. And thought, you know, has a greater velocity than light. Therefore though the distance between Him and me is told to be so incalculably far, in truth He is so very near.

There is an eternal struggle raging in man’s breast between the powers of darkness and light, and he who has the sheet anchor of prayer to lay upon will not be overcome by the powers of darkness. The man of prayer will be at peace with himself, and with the whole world. The man who moves about the world without a prayerful heart will be miserable, and also will make the world miserable. It is a universal experience that every calamity brings the sensible man down on his knees. Millions of human beings call out for God through prayer, thus the calamities of the world are seen as a means for self-improvement.

Prayers are the only way of bringing about orderliness, peace and repose in our daily practice. He who hungers for the awakening of the Divine in him must fall back on prayer.  But it is not the recitation of a set formula. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words, than words without a heart. It must be in clear response for the Spirit that hungers for us. Even as a hungry man will relish a hearty meal, a hungry soul will relish a heartfelt prayer.

I will give you a bit from my own experience, and from that of my companions, that he who has experienced the magic of prayer may go days together without food, but not a single moment without prayer. For without prayer, there is no peace.  It is so needful for me. When it springs from the heart. prayer needs no speech. It is an unfailing means of cleansing the heart from passion. But it must be combined with an atmosphere of humility. Our prayer is our heart’s step that reminds us that we are helpless without God’s support. The greatest of human endeavor is of no effect if it has not God’s blessing behind it! Real prayer is an absolute shield and protection against evil. But God does not always assent by our very first effort through prayer. We have to strive against ourselves. We have to believe in spite of ourselves. We have, therefore, to cultivate inimitable patience, if we are to realize the efficacy of the prayer. There is the darkness, disappointments and even worse, but we must have courage in us to battle against all these and not succumb to cowardess. There is no such thing as retreat for the man of prayer.

It may take time for the recitation to come from the heart, even as the seed that is sown has to be nurtured and bears fruit only in due season. If the desire to have God within us is there, progress however slow, is bound to be. Man cannot be transformed from bad to good overnight. God does not exercise panic. He too is within His own law. His law is written on the tablets of the heart. There can be no fixed role laid down as to when a devotional act should take place. It depends on individual temperaments. There are precious moments in one’s daily life, these are exercises intended to soften and humble and enable us to realize that nothing happens without His will, and that we are but clay in the hands of the Potter. These are moments that one can use when one’s need confesses ones weakness, asks for forgiveness, and strength to be and to do better. One minute may be enough for some; 24 hours would be too little for others.  For those who are filled with the presence of God in them, to labor is to pray. Their life is one continuous prayer, or act of worship. For those who act only to sin, to indulge themselves, and to live for self, no time is too much.  If they are patient and have the will to be pure, they would pray until they feel the definite purifying presence of God within them.

For us ordinary mortals, there must be a middle path between these two extremes. We are not as exalted to be able to say that all of our acts are a dedication, nor perhaps are we so far gone as to live purely for self. Hence all religions have set apart time for general devotion. I believe that prayer is the very soul and essence of religion and therefore prayer must be the very core of the life of man.”

A note from Swamiji on the source of the quotes above:  ” This was from a transcription I was doing of a speech,
in which the speaker was reading from an unknown compilation of all 100 of Gandhiji’s volumes!
But the words of this saint, not just Mahatma, are unmistakably Divinely inspired.

Photo from

Crisis, Fear, And Transformation: By Rita Minassian

Rita Minassian post crisis-fear-and-tranformation

Traders in panic in Wall Street – Photo credit Bloomberg

No doubt that in the current economical context, many people are in panic around the world because of huge losses on the stock exchanges of the planet. Except a pinch of conscious business leaders, how many of them are considering this crisis with a spiritual approach, realising how predictable was the transformation we’re going through and, beyond economical issues, how global it is? Yet, for centuries, esoteric systems referred to some huge opening of consciousness after the millenium, lets’ see how incontrovertible is this profound change and how to participate to it individually and consciously.

 According to the belief of the Mayan civilization, the world is organized upon a cyclic system: many centuries BC, the Maya calendar predicted the end of a cycle of 26 000 years in 2012 and the starting over a new one.

 The book of the Apocalypse, refers to a chaos that St John calls “The Judgement day “ that will occur during “the End of the times”. This doesn’t mean the end of our planet because of our “sins” like Church wanted people to believe for centuries but, the original meaning of the word, a time for  “Revelation”: time for people to transform the way they think, they behave and reveal their inner truth to live in a conscious way.

It’s been 5000 years that Sciences like Chinese medicine and Ayurveda are promoting a hollistic  approach of human beings: we’re not just flesh and blood that can be opened, cut and sewed like rag dolls…but energetic systems to be considered globally: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual beings. Recently, the research in Quantic physics and the string theory are tending to proof the global nature of our “system”,  including an energetic approach of what we call reality.

In  the 19th century,  Carl Gustav Jung and his concept of collective unconscious was a revolution in our approach as individual beings, showing how bounded we all are.

Compassionate thoughts are prayers toward the others and would, by a “boomerang effect” come back to us the way we threw them. Such as embezzlements… isn’t it M. Madoff ?…

Like is like, the law of attraction was already known through the famous “Do onto others as you would wish them do onto you”, our economy is paying the price of feckless decisions based only on a compulsive need for profit margin…

To bring back balance in our life, it’s becoming urgent to live in harmony: within ourselves, with the others and with the Universe, by adding some more common sense and ethic in our economics, politics, environmental issues …Integrity and respect have to be applied in our everyday life, both personal and professional and not just be abstract, political correct concepts.

 According to esoteric systems, we’ve now almost entered the Era of the Aquarius that is not, like some people may think, the confabulation of a group of hippies of the 70’s, but a challenging period of time for humanity that gives us the opportunity to live this famous New Age predicted since centuries in many civilizations, beyond one religion or belief, through inner transformation…

 Transformation within ourselves, to go to a higher level of consciousness, transforming old patterns, lead unto gold,  sounds like an alchemical process to reach a certain Holly quest isn’t it?…

There are many tools to help us to operate this transformation. Some traditional ones like yoga, meditation and mantras help us to connect our higher self giving us a conscious awareness of what we’re living “here and now”. Other ones more contemporary, like psychology, give us the opportunity to face the shadow within us. Our ego builds a balance, a public character that plays a role in society, but in the back of this pseudo identity, it’s important to find out how much our reactions are conditioned by our fears and old patterns in order to operate changes and stop to live the same experiences over again, very often in pain and suffering…

 As we’re all bounded, we attract what we are through the law of attraction. We can represent this unity by similarity with a diamond, a unique gem with many different facets: each one of them representing one person…If we apply that metaphor to our interpersonal experiences, in a very honest way, we can see how each person around us represents a part of our personality with both positives points and flaws. Very often, the characteristic of the person is shown to us in a exaggerate way in other to wake us up and oblige us to see what’s wrong within us!

This perspective really give us an interesting stand back that helps to “in-vestigate”: “what part of my personality is attracting that person/attribute/lack/experience…?”

Mirror, mirror on the wall… the other then becomes the reflection of our real “me”, free from the mask of the ego…

When we start to be aware of the transformation we have to proceed within ourselves, it becomes an everyday challenge, but Oh so rewarding!

“A lot of chaos is needed to create a butterfly”, thus spoke Zarathustra, we’re in the middle of the chaos, creating the butterfly depends on all of us…

This period of profound change, pushes us to reorganize our entire system in the doldrums, to clean it deeply, previous to a positive period of time unprecedented: no GDP can measure what’s really worth living in life. Today, I heard the speech of a politician asking for some more “moral capitalism”, It is definitely time for a more heart-based leadership…

“Be the change that you want to see around you” said the Mahatma Gandhi, let’s face the mirror and go for this challenging Armageddon.

Rita Minassian Empathic-civilization-jeremy-rifkin-crisis fear transformation

NOTA: Two years after writing this article, an excellent book called “The Empathic Civilization” was published by economist Jeremy Rifkin, a real visionary. I highly recommend this book if you wish to go further with the topic of this post.

Rita Minassian –

Editor’s Note: Rita Minassian resides in France and her native tongue is French.  She is the founder and spiritual trainer at the Akasha Institute. Please visit her website for more information.

Wisdom Eye: The True Guru: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

“Who is a master? He is the Self after all.” Ramana Maharshi

The company of peaceful Sages (Satsangha) and living in Ahimsa (harmlessness) is considered the primary influence that leads to Self-Realization. The forced attempts to discard various habits and conditioning and practicing different techniques to calm the mind have built in limitations. However, such methods can be pursued with benefit if one is already inclined towards these practices.

When strong inner motivation is present, one is automatically propelled towards Self-Awareness and Meditation. The fog of confusion then quickly evaporates and leads to Self-Seeing, Self-Being, Self-Realization, and Silence of the Heart.

Meditation and mind calming methods, can be effective at many different levels if practiced in the context of a clear understanding. Such practices, however, cannot by themselves end the fundamental agitation of the mind which continues at more and more subtle levels and causes suffering.

The nature of the mind is to hanker after that which is not real and is constantly subject to change. Not knowing who we are, where we come from, and where we are going, we still continue chasing after dreams built on the sand castles of desires.

If we become aware of this, we can see the primary nature of suffering, and direct our attention to the mystery of life and the nature of our perceptions.

In Indian spiritual traditions, a guru serves as a conduit to help us along the path. However, many things we hear about gurus these days are not appetizing. Still, if we realize the truth of the pure teachings, that the Supreme Reality is indeed our own Heart which guides us, then we can walk the path lightly without being misled.

The Self Always Reveals It Self from Within. Listen. Remain aware.

Be utterly indifferent to the clever words, miracles, and magical techniques that promise salvation. If you have the courage, open your wisdom eye and see clearly what attracts you to such things and people.

What is it that these gurus have to give you that you do not have? Question seriously and honestly and investigate the root of your hopes and fears.

There are many active marketers of “spiritual wisdom.” It has now become a public relations game with the many modern gurus as they compete in the free market of spirituality. Many spiritual teachers today attempt to distinguish themselves on the basis of their “enlightenment”, their spiritual experience, and how “awake” they are. Some claim that by their magical touch, shaktipat, or willpower, they can create miracles and remove obstacles from someone’s path. We cannot say that all such teachers and gurus are good or bad. But we have witnessed enough scandals among spiritual teachers to conclude that there is a need to be alert to the human tendency of those in power to exploit others financially and even sexually. Some teachers, giving satsang, and teaching yoga and advaita, are no doubt good and genuine people, but others may be quite ignorant and have generally bad tendencies.

I will share with you briefly a story. One time, I was walking my teacher, Chitrabhanu-ji, back to his apartment and we were speaking about the guru-disciple relationship. During the conversation, he said to me, “You should never follow any guru.” I was quite surprised to hear him say that because you see Chitrabhanu-ji was my spiritual teacher and mentor and I referred to him as Gurudeva. All Indian spiritual traditions in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, in fact, have the guru-disciple relationship at their core. So I asked Chitrabhanu-ji, “Gurudev, why do you say this? Why do you say that I should never follow any guru?” My teacher smiled and said, “Well, what if the guru goes crazy and starts acting nutty?” So I had a good hearty laugh.

My teacher, Gurudev Chitrabhanu-ji, was also my friend. I was only 21 when I met him. He was then 56 and now he is in his mid 80s (written in 2006). During the time spent with him, I had the sense that he wanted to make sure that I understood the realities of life and was fully independent and able to think on my own. His success as a teacher was that he made me independent of himself as well. Chitrabhanu-ji used to say that…” a real guru is like an ice cube. He cools your consciousness and then disappears without a trace.” From my teacher I learned the sacred philosophy of Ahimsa (harmlessness), which is the cardinal principle of Jainism. Mahatma Gandhi of India was an exemplar of the practice of Ahimsa in the last century.

After some years, when I left my teacher to go back to graduate school, he said that I should always remember the principle of Ahimsa and keep that as my ideal. From Ahimsa follows being able to understand many different points of view and to approach situations with awareness and compassion. During the years that I studied with my teacher, he never asked me for anything. No money, nothing. Actually, I had nothing to give. At that time I used to teach yoga to earn a livelihood and it was barely enough to pay the rent and eat.

Sometimes I see gurus who treat their students badly and even exploit them financially and in other ways. I see the huge contrast between that and how my teacher treated me, despite my youth and immaturity, with the utmost respect and courtesy as a human being and his equal. So I tell students on the spiritual path that it is never a good idea to hang around a so called guru or a spiritual teacher who demeans you or insults you or disrespects you in any way. It does not matter if such a person is charismatic or if your friends adore him or her. In Patanjali’s ancient yoga sutras, Ahimsa (harmlessness or nonviolence) is mentioned as the first principle of yoga. A guru or a teacher whose words and attitude carry and convey violence cannot be good for you.

Understand that, like you, most gurus and spiritual teachers today have their own personal challenges and suffering. You need not judge others too harshly. Yet at the same time one must be free to follow one’s own vision. With compassion for others and one’s own self, one should keep one’s focus utterly, totally, and completely pure. This means that you should not give in to the attraction of confusion, and compromise in seeking the Truth by creating a permanent dependence on another person. If a guru creates circumstances and subtly encourages you to do become dependent or submit to his/her will, know that such a person is controlled by his or her own power needs and greed. What can such a person give you?

When I first met my teacher he told me frankly, “I cannot give you enlightenment. Gurus who claim such a thing deceive their students. To become Self-Realized, one must carefully investigate the mind and perceptions and meditate on the nature of the Self.”

I pass this on to you. No one can give you the Truth. Truth is always revealed from the inside. And when it comes, you see that your own essence is that of Truth. That is our mystery that the perfect and complete love that we long for is ultimately seen in our nature and our own heart. The ancients called it the Heart, Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, which is our very being.

Do not settle for anything less than the Heart, your own Heart. Do not settle for anything – keep going until there is nothing left to settle for.

Let your effort be absorbed in peaceful Self-awareness. There is absolutely nothing else to be done.

Nothing given,

nothing taken.

See the sights,

be not mistaken.

You have everything you need.

Think not that you must awaken,

now or at some later date.

Know this for certain,

That You Are Already Wide Awake!

Abide in that Heart of Being.

Gandhi – The Power of Nonviolence: Dr. Arun Gandhi

Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, in his June 9 lecture at the University of Puerto Rico, shared the following story as an example of nonviolence in parenting:

“I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa, in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies. One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance.

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