Attaining Yoga or Union:

Attaining Yoga or Union:
Yoga or "Union" is attained by first training, balancing, and purifying each of the aspects of our being individually, and then systematically receding attention inward through those levels, expanding so as to experience the state of Union, Yoga, Samadhi, or Turiya.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Attachment is the Greatest Obstacle to Realization

From Sacred Journey
By Swami Rama
ISBN 8188157007
Reprinted with permission of the Publisher
Copyright Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust

Swami Rama

The greatest obstacle in the path of realization is attachment to the body and to the objects of the world. This attachment makes us slaves. It is because of our attachments that we experience fear of death and loss. The more body-conscious and body-attached a person is, the greater the fear of dying.

The same principle applies to people who are attached to the things of the world, to their houses, property, clothing, jewelry, and money. They fear losing those things because they somehow offer meaning, identity, and worth. People also become very attached to other people. The emotion they feel for others gives them an identity and they fear giving up that identity in death. They fear the deaths of those to whom they are attached for similar reasons. If one's identity is somehow defined by attachment to others, the death of others then affects that identity.

The solution is to do away with these attachments to the body, property, possessions, and other people. This point cannot be made often enough. Reducing and finally eliminating attachments does not mean to escape life, to deny the enjoyment of life, or in any way to
diminish life's value. Just the opposite occurs. Life is enhanced, enriched and expanded by reducing attachments. The person learns to love and give and open up to others and to the events of the world.

Attachment means to grip, clasp, grasp, and hold on tightly. When death comes all that was being clutched and grasped is wrenched away. The tighter something is held, the greater will be the wrenching away, the deeper will be the pain. If life has been led with open hands, with no attachments, then death comes but there is nothing to be wrenched away.

We cannot all of a sudden wake one moment and let go of all attachments. It is a lifetime's work to undo the habit of forming attachments and requires attention every day, because the attractions and temptations of the world constantly work to strengthen attachments.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Meditation on Form and Formless; Knowledge and Devotion

Audio Pocast:

Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
Recorded December 23, 2006
1 hour, 13 minutes, 9 seconds

Click here to listen to the audio Podcast:

This conversation is about Saguna and Nirguna, and the paths of
meditation and contemplation with form or without form, which is
related to the paths of Knowing (Jnana Yoga) and Devotion (Bhakti
Yoga). The discussion involves the approaches individually, and how
the work together. The recording ends with a 17-minute guided
contemplative meditation on either Form or the Formless, which begins
at 55:47.


SWAMI J PODCAST also available through I-Tunes,,, and others.

Teaching Meditation to Children

Let the Bud of Life Bloom
A Guide to Raising Happy and Healthy Children
By Swami Rama
ISBN 818815704X
Reprinted with permission of the Publisher
Copyright Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust

Swami Rama

When you practice meditation, initially you come in touch with
yourself and all your thought patterns; you come to understand your
inner dialogue. Then, you learn to discriminate—to select and reject;
and finally, you learn how to work with yourself. These seeds should
be sown in childhood.

Instead, believers of all faiths, clinging to external rituals,
impose their ideals on their children and force them to participate
in their time-honored customs. Children are taught to love and to
worship pictures of Christ, Krishna, or other gods and goddesses, and
sometimes even community or religious leaders. This does not help
them to become independent or to acquire peace of mind. Children need
to be taught how to cultivate divine virtues within themselves; they
need to be taught how to look within, and how to find within in order
to attain freedom. I think if everyone were to be given a spiritual
education in childhood, they would have fewer problems living in the
world. Without understanding the values of spirituality, with all its
currents and crosscurrents, one becomes lost living in this jungle
that is called world. The world is the real jungle; that which is
considered to be the jungle is not the real jungle.

Most diseases originate in childhood. Children become ill because
they have not learned the means of acquiring peace of mind. Why do
you not lead your children to silence before they learn to be active?
Mothers can do this if they are friends with their children. But
these days mothers have no time. They go out and enjoy themselves
while their children remain at home. The lack of communication
between the younger generation and the parents is creating great
chaos. First of all, you have to learn to respect the family
institution where parents become counselors to their children, and
where children accept their parents, not only as parents, but also as

When you make meditation a part of your life, your children will
follow your example. Exemplary education is very important for
children. Children imitate their parents; you don't have to teach
them to meditate. Never do that. You should teach your children
through example how to sit quietly and make their minds one-pointed.
When you sit in meditation, your child will also come and sit next to
you and pretend to do what you are doing. In this way the child will
come to know what you are doing and will also form the habit of
sitting with you.

I used to do that in my childhood. When my master would sit in
meditation, I would sit next to him. When I wanted his attention, I
would climb onto his lap. He wouldn't say anything to me, so I would
do something to get his attention. Then he would rub my forehead, and
I did not know what had happened. I am sure I was not sleeping. If
you sit in meditation, and your child comes and sits next to you and
closes his eyes, it is very helpful for the child. Do you think the
child is meditating? I say the child is meditating better than you
are. Even when a child simply imitates you when you are meditating,
it is very helpful for the child.

Meditation is a very powerful thing that gives helpful vibrations to
all. When you meditate, it definitely affects your children. If you
record the brain waves of a child who is sleeping while you are
meditating, you will find a difference. Even your plants and your
pets are affected when you meditate. Instead of imposing your ego or
your emotional problems on your children in the name of discipline,
please discipline yourself, and then your children will also learn.

As a part of our educational training we must define spirituality in
its most precise and universal terms. Spirituality means that which
helps us to discipline our thoughts, speech, and actions; that which
leads us toward the center of consciousness, and thereby helps to
unfold our inner potentials. Education based on such spiritual
guidelines will help humanity to become self-reliant and confident.
Only education based on spirituality can bring harmonious balance to
both our external and inner life.

We need not force children to believe that there is a God. However,
we should provide them with the opportunity to unfold their inner
potentials, to gain confidence, and to become inspired to search for
God according to their own inner tendencies and capacity. For
children to learn to cultivate divine virtues within themselves, the
knowledge of theories that prove the existence of God is not as
important as to learn how to discipline oneself. Through self-
discipline God can be experienced directly.

Spiritual practices, undertaken at an early age, have a profound and
long lasting effect. Human beings have tremendous potential provided
they are taught to train themselves on all levels—physical, mental,
and spiritual. Let us teach our children how to become aware of
themselves on all levels. With a calm and one-pointed mind, children
can obtain a glimpse of true peace and happiness.

The Process of Kundalini Awakening

Excerpted from:
(There are useful graphics at this link. This newsletter is 1 of 7 sequential web pages at on Kundalini Awakening. The other pages are available at the link above.)

Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati


At the base of the spine, subtler than the physical body, lies the Kundalini energy, or spiritual energy, in a latent form. Regardless of what religious, spiritual, or meditation tradition one follows, the awakening of this energy, by whatever name you call it, is a most innate and essential part of spiritual advancement, unfoldment, or realization. Awakening kundalini and leading it to union with the Absolute is the goal of the Himalayan sages and the path of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra.

See also the article:
Bindu: Pinnacle of Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra

Also, listen to the audio (mp3):
The Secret of Shiva and Shakti


The graphics above display the seven major chakras (section #5), the left and right energies of Ida and Pingala (section #1), and the Sushumna nadi, the central channel that courses through the chakras (Sushumna is sometimes called "silver cord"). The six graphics visually represent the process of Kundalini Awakening. Clicking on each of the six graphics will move you through explanations of the stages. Also, there is an index for the contents of these pages.

The six stages are:

1) Prana usually flow in Ida or Pingala
2) Prana is made to flow in Ida and Pingala
3) Prana is made to flow in Sushumna
4) Kundalini energy is awakened
5) Kundalini is lead upwards
6) Kundalini rises to Sahasrara


There is nothing especially significant about describing this Kundalini Awakening in six stages (the six graphics), as opposed to some other number; it is simply a convenient way to explain the process. The simplest way of describing the entire process is in three stages:

1) Awakening, opening, or applying Sushumna
2) Awakening Kundalini
3) Kundalini arising to the crown Chakra, Sahasrara


There is one energy (Shakti) that keeps taking on new shapes and forms. Each time the energy takes on a new form, we give it a new name. See the article Kundalini, Shakti, and a River for an explanation of these names and forms.


Tantra considers the universe to be a manifestation of pure consciousness. Through this process of manifesting, consciousness divides itself into two parts, which, though seeming to be separate, cannot exist without one another.

Shiva remains as a static, formless quality.
Shakti is a dynamic, creative aspect.


Modern science also considers these two forms of energy, though viewing them in different ways. Science includes, for example, potential energy and kinetic energy (the energy of motion), recognizing that they are both manifestations of the same underlying energy. Tantra describes the unification of all as the pouring out of the energy of consciousness through the manifestation of the static (Shiva) through a veiling and projecting process (Shakti), creating the levels of the universe. At the physical level, modern physics also seeks to find a unifying source, and is in the process of explaining this unification through quark and string theories.


Shiva and Shakti are inseparable and coexist, like ink and the written word, which, though one and the same, are different. With one pen of ink, many different words or images can be manifested, although there remains only one container (pen) of ink. It is that creative process of manifestation that makes the ink appear to have different forms and meaning from one word to the next. When you write different words, or draw both a circle and a square, you have not created a single ink molecule, but have only rearranged the existing molecules, creating the appearance of different words or forms. It remains exactly what it was in the first place, which is ink. This is not negative or merely intellectually reductionistic, but is a most awesome, beautiful process. Similarly, the unmanifest Shiva can manifest into countless forms through the creative appearance of Shakti. Simple metaphors such as ink and written word can be extremely useful to contemplate on, so as to understand the principle of the one appearing to be two, and how these two dance together to form the elegant complexity of manifest reality.


The journey of Tantra and Kundalini Yoga leads to Kundalini Awakening and to the realization of the Absolute, where these two apparently different aspects of manifestation are experienced in their original union. Yoga means union, or joining, and this union of the static and the dynamic is the meaning of Yoga (see also Yoga Sutras, particularly sutras 1.1-1.4, which define Yoga). Through the process of going ever deeper or higher in practices relating to your own constitution, one repeatedly comes to see the way in which seemingly different realities and self-identities are only apparent, and that manifestation is the mere play of the creative aspect of Shakti with the static aspect of Shiva.


As with many principles of reality, some religious people and traditions conceptualize Shiva and Shakti as anthropomorphic deities, while others view the two as principles and processes of the universe. In either case, the journey of Kundalini Awakening is an inner experience, going from gross to subtle, to subtler, and subtle most, to one's own center of consciousness, by whatever name you choose to call that. In this article, Shiva and Shakti are seen to be the two principles and processes of static and dynamic, as noted several paragraphs above.

See also the article:
Secret of Shiva and Shakti


Kunda means bowl, or cave, and refers to the bowl of fire of consciousness resting in the first chakra at the base of the spine. Lini refers to that which resides in that bowl. Kundala means coiled, as the Shakti forms in a coil there.


The word shak is the root word of Shakti, and means to be able, or to have power. Hence, Kundalini Shakti is the power of consciousness that is coiled in a latent form, in the base of the spine.


For those who are lesser prepared, the path of external practices (bahiyayag) is preferred, which may include external forms of rituals or symbolic gestures. For those who are prepared, the path of internal practices (antaryag) is available, which involves making the mind one-pointed and doing introspection.


The three schools of tantra are kaula, mishra, and samaya. The kaula school starts with the lower chakras, and involves external practices. The mishra school also works with external practices, and emphasizes the central chakras. The samaya school is the highest, emphasizing the upper chakras. It involves no external practices, focusing only on the inner (antaryag) practices. (The Tantra practice of Yoga Nidra is extremely effective in opening, balancing and purifying the chakras. See also the page describing the Yoga Nidra CD.)


Before treading the later stages of Kundalini Awakening, it is very important to manage the basic urges. Otherwise, the surge of energy may not be handled very well. This means regulating the four primitive fountains of food, sleep, sex, and self-preservation.


The approach of these writings is to describe the systematic process of intentional Kundalini Awakening. However, it may also come spontaneously to people who have done no intentional practices. One may argue that spontaneous awakening may be coming as a result of previous practices that are not remembered, but in either case the perception of the individual may be that nothing was done to bring forward the experience.


Regardless of whether Kundalini Awakening comes spontaneously or through practices, there may be some amount of time and effort needed to integrate the effects of such experiences into the body and personality. It is a time when stabilizing actions are important, including daily exercise, high quality food, regular sleep patterns, and healthy relationships with other people. During this time is very useful to be around someone who has knowledge of this process, and has experienced it personally.


Preparation is much more important than the practices of Kundalini Awakening themselves. If one skips the basics and the preparation of body, breath, and mind, then the surge of energy can be more disruptive than beneficial. In the Himalayan tradition Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra go together, with a solid foundation being built first. The practices of yoga nidra and bhuta shuddhi (chakra meditation) can be quite useful.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Stages of Meditation, Subtle Experiences, Obstacles to Meditation

AUDIO PODCAST: This is a conversation on the stages of meditation dealing with senses and actions, body, breath, the various levels of mind, and that which is beyond the mind. It centers around a graphic on the home page of that shows these stages, along with a question mark representing that which is beyond. We also talk about subtle experiences of meditation, obstacles to enlightenment, yoga sutras, and balancing living in the world and the highest goal of life.

Click here to open the podcast

The podcast can be also be accessed through podcast page

The podcast can be also be accessed through any of the following links:

(You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes,,, and The podcast sites take up to 24 hours to post, and may not be updated at the time you are reading this blog.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Attention, Concentration, Meditation and Samadhi

QUESTION: Is Dharana just "meditation" in an advanced state?

RESPONSE: Remember that "meditation" is an English word that is used in many different ways by different people. Most often, however, "meditation" is linked with "dhyana". It is extremely common in English speaking cultures to use the word "meditation" for any form of attention or concentration. Hence, for example, we have "meditation music" where the person is not at all concentrating in the strictest sense of the word, but is instead just listening to music (which is useful and pleasant, though not meditation as dharana).

There is a sequence:

Attention leads to concentration (dharana).
Concentration leads to meditation (dhyana).
Meditation (dhyana) leads to absorption (samadhi).

Like most arts or sciences, yoga has its own language, which is usually Sanskrit. The terms are more specific than the English words. English words are fine, once we understand the context of their use.

See also Yoga Sutras 3.1-3.3 -

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Personal Philosophy of Life

From Conscious Living
By Swami Rama
ISBN 8188157031 (Book)
ISBN 818815718x (Audio)
Reprinted with permission of the Publisher
Copyright Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust

Swami Rama

I have come to share my joy truthfully with you. I say, ye human beings, among all the species on the earth, you are the greatest. You are the greatest for you can change your destiny, you can build your destiny, you can enlighten yourself. Other species do not have this privilege. From among the kingdom of animals, the kingdom of vegetables, the kingdom of rocks and clay you alone have that privilege. Why are you not enjoying that privilege? I have come to remind you of that. Have you seen guards at night? They roam around and say, “Remain awake, remain awake!” But you remain sleeping. I am like that guard. Uttishtata, uttishtata! Wake up, wake up! Jagrata, remain awake. Prapta varanya bodhasa, gain knowledge. This is my message to everybody. I know they are sleeping but yet I have to say this. This is my duty. This is my job. If I don’t do it, I will not be happy. We human beings, all of us, have the birthright to attain the final goal of life, and sooner or later we’ll reach that goal. So, everyone has hopes. But do you have the patience to wait for such a long time? I don’t.

I will try to cover the entire philosophy of life in these lectures. We need to understand one word and that is called freedom—freedom from all bondages, from all ignorance. That state which is free from stress, strain, bondage and ignorance is called the state of enlightenment and that can be considered to be the state of perfection.

What is the aim and goal of life? You think I am going to tell you it’s God? No, that’s not being practical. The aim of life is contentment and for that you need adjustment. Can you adjust yourself mentally, physically, and through speech so that you are content? What do you mean by being content? I always say: do not be satisfied yet remain content. Contentment is a great virtue that you can develop in your daily life. If it is not there, your God business is not going to help you, let me assure you. Repeating God, God, God, God, God, without understanding! What a waste of time and energy! I am not an atheist, but I have learned to analyze things with clarity of mind and that’s how I was trained. And that same thing I am imparting to you now.

You may say that the purpose of life is to attain God. I say no. In my childhood, one day I went to my Master, a great yogi and sage from Bengal, who lived in the Himalayas for many, many years. And I said, “My heart cries because you have not shown me God. And so I think you have destroyed my life.” He kept quiet. He said, “Go on.” I said, “I want to see God.” He responded, “You want to see God? Are you sure you want to see God?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “I will show you God in the morning, tomorrow morning.” So that whole night I remained restless and I could not sleep. I was filled with joy but at times doubts too came into my mind. I could not sleep. In the morning, without sleep, I was looking tired. I took my bath and that day I became an extraordinarily holy person bowing often in front of my Master because he was going to show me God. He said, “What has happened to you today? Your behavior has changed.” I said, “It’s because I want to see God today.” He said, “I promised to show you God. I will be very honest, but will you please also be honest with me?” I said, “Yes.” He asked me a question, “Tell me what kind of God do you want to see?” I was taken aback and asked, “Are there many kinds of God?” He said, “No. I want to know what is the concept of God in your mind?”

All your life you long to meet God, but you have no concept of God. What type of God will you meet? Everyone says, “I want to see God, I want to see God.” Someone is doing chanting, someone is meditating, someone is talking of Gita, someone is talking of Upanishads. Nobody sees God, it’s all mere talk. Why? Because you don’t have a clear concept. You should have a clear concept and then you should learn to work towards that concept. Only then will you get it.

So I said to my Master, “It means you bluffed me yesterday. You promised that you would show me God. And this morning you say what kind of God do you want to see?” He replied, “Look, I promised to show you the kind of God you wanted to see. Think about it. I give you time. At any time you can come and say that this is the type of God I want to see and I’ll show you that God.” I was speechless. So is the case with all of you. You want to see God without knowing what He is and that’s why He never appears before you. If He suddenly appears before you, perhaps you will not recognize Him. So if there is no clarity of mind, if there is no purity of heart, your whole life remains full of confusion. This is my point. What do you mean by seeing God? Are you at peace, are you happy, do you lead a balanced life, are you attaining your goal in life? These are the vital questions of life.

So after half an hour, my Master again called out to me, “Have you decided what kind of God you want to see?” I said, “Not yet.” He said, “Please decide and come to me and I will show you.” To this day I don’t dare to say that I have.

If a swami, a priest or a yogi comes to you, if your teacher or guru comes to you and says, “My child, what do you want? What do you want to know?” There are many things in your mind and heart. You want to become millionaire but you won’t tell him. You’ll say, “I want to see God.” You want to have a good wife but you won’t say that. You’ll say, “I want to see God.” There is a beautiful saying, any human being who gives responsibilities to the Lord, his own responsibilities, cripples human potentials. If you don’t want to perform your duties and then say God will do everything for me, this is not good. You are not utilizing the gifts given to you by Providence.

If I have no understanding of what God is, I cannot get enlightened, I can never see God. Even though I have a desire to see God, nothing is going to happen. Let us not cheat ourselves. There are things which we have been repeating without understanding why we are doing it. Tell me what is the purpose of God in your daily life? When you need food, you don’t eat God. When you want to wear clothes, you need clothes, not God. Where do we need God in life? Let us understand things rightly.

This human life is very precious. It’s not like animal life. Animal activities are completely controlled by nature. They cannot do anything. In the animal kingdom, nothing is by choice. But as a human being, you can do tremendous things, you can perform wonders. You have choice and the power to change. As easily as you can turn your face from this side to that side, you can change yourself. You can transform your personality completely. It’s a very simple thing, provided you are practical and you are truthful to yourself. We human beings live our lives based on how the world judges us. Take the case of a wife at home who looks toward her husband all the time, like a German shepherd, wanting to know what he thinks of her. And if he says, “Honey, you look very beautiful, you are wonderful.” She may feel, “He has made my day.” She leans on him all the time seeking approval. This great force on earth, called womankind, has never been utilized properly. It is only being exploited. And that is one of the causes of our suffering. Please, please, try to understand what I am saying.

I want to give you a glimpse of your individual self, because there are many false notions. When a human being suffers, the suffering is not because of external forces, not because of others. The suffering is because of his or her own thinking and understanding. So we will discuss that. We have many such fears in our life. We talk of God so much, we sing kirtans, we study the scriptures like the Ramayana, the Gita and Bible, we go to temples or churches. Yet our ignorance remains. There is no change in our daily life, in our behavior. What is the reason? The reason is that right from our childhood, we are trained to see and examine things in the external world. Nobody teaches us how to look within, find within, and see within. So we remain a stranger to ourselves, yet we want to know others; isn’t this strange?

So first of all, a human being should learn to understand himself on all levels and then he can understand all, the Self of all. And he can understand that absolute Self which is called absolute Truth. This is the right system and there are three schools, and any of these schools will help you: the school of meditation, the school of contemplation, and the school of prayer. If you learn to understand prayer, what prayer is, you can easily evoke your emotional self and attain that height of ecstasy and be there. If you understand the philosophy of life through contemplation you can attain the goal of life. If you understand the school of meditation and systematically meditate, you can attain the fourth state which is called sleepless sleep, you can attain the purpose of life. But if you practice meditation for a few days, contemplation for a few days, and then prayer for a few days, and finally decide that none of them suits you, you won’t attain anything. The basic thing is that we create certain problems and barriers for ourselves, because of our fears and confusion. We have certain questions in our mind and we should learn to tackle them first. As long as you remain under the pressure of fears you cannot do anything. And talking about God is a good pastime, but you don’t get anything. You may become godly but you cannot attain God, you cannot have peace, you cannot have happiness. Forgive me if I am crushing your sentiments but this is the truth.

Let us learn to enjoy one thing. All the great scriptures of the world, which have been revealed to the sages from the depths of their deep contemplation, say one and the same thing. A human being has been created exactly in the image of God. When God created human beings in His own image, why do human beings suffer? It’s because human beings have forgotten their Creator; that’s why they suffer. Otherwise there is no difference between man and God. The moment you realize that you don’t exist, but God exists, you are free. And in reality that’s true. All the scriptures say, God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, God is everywhere. Then where are you? Where is there place for you to exist? How can you claim that you and I exist somewhere and this is mine and that is yours? It’s the human mind that creates all the barriers for individuals. We have to understand this whole philosophy, get rid of all our confusions, be at peace and start realizing the great glory that is hidden deep within our hearts and minds. Therefore every individual should try to understand one thing: I will know myself on all levels in this lifetime and get enlightened here and now. There should be this determination. That is the purpose of this series of lectures.

What does the body mean to us? Is human being a body alone? No. He breathes too. Then you see we are breathing beings. This breath of ours creates a bridge between our thinking process, or mind, and body. Why does the body not fall apart, separating itself from the thinking portion? Because there are two guards, called inhalation and exhalation. Life is breath and breath is life.

How does our mind function and from where does our mind receive its power and energy? There is a center of consciousness beyond mind and that is called your individual soul. So it is from here that you receive consciousness and energy. Individual souls are like ripples in the vast ocean of bliss called Brahman, the summum bonum of life, the very source of all life force, from where all the ripples rise, play, and again subside.

Let’s begin with the body. We take care of our body but do not understand anything about it. So if you want to be physically fit, understand the importance of a good body. Good body means, physically healthy body. You need to understand something about diet and nutrition, and about body language. Your body speaks to you.

When you learn to understand your body’s needs and body language, then you should learn how to breathe. We all are breathing but we are not breathing correctly, not breathing diaphragmatically. You’ll find that a child spontaneously breathes diaphragmatically but because of our defective living, our breathing changes after some time. So deep diaphragmatic breathing is very necessary for health (see Appendix A).

What is diaphragmatic breathing? When you push in your abdomen as you exhale, it will help your diaphragm to empty your lungs and will help you to expel the used up gas. When the abdomen moves out it will expand the lungs and draw in the oxygen.

It’s easy to know the body and breath, but it’s a little bit more difficult to know the mind, because there is no such education that teaches and trains us to understand our mind. So let us have simple understanding. Scientific research and scientists today say that 80% of diseases are created by the mind. They originate in the mind and are expressed in the body. All of the body is in the mind, but not all of the mind is in the body. You don’t see your mind but through your mind your eyes can see. If you are frustrated all the time, never happy, then your wife says, “What can I do? He’s never happy, no matter what I do. Very unhappy person, nobody can please him in this world. No matter what I do he’s never happy.” Poor husband is heading towards some problem!

As it is important for you to eat good nutritious food and to do some exercise daily, it is important for you to maintain mental health, spiritual health, by learning to do certain exercises of breathing, relaxation and meditation. It’s very good for you. Once you have learned how to use your deep diaphragmatic movement to regulate the motion of your lungs, then you watch your breath stream. It’s very joyous, wonderful. Who is giving you life breath? The Lord of life who gives to all. It’s your direct link with the Lord that you have all the time. Watch your breath, the flow of breath and the mind will find an easy way to attain peace, to taste peace.

For a few minutes every day you should learn to sit quiet, to sit still, to make your breath serene, to make your mind calm. Practice will make you perfect, not mere theory. This is something that you have to practice. I cannot meditate for you. I can do anything for you; I can cook your meals, I can drive you from one place to another. But meditation is that something which you should practice yourself. Buddha clearly said, “Ye, light thy own lamp. Nobody can give you salvation.” Meditation you should practice. A guru, a teacher, a priest, can give you blessings, and that gives you solace, good solace, but meditation practice you have to do yourself.

When you know you are not a body alone, that you are a thinking being, that you have a mind, then you ask, “Who am I? I have body and mind, who am I? Am I the body? No. Am I the mind? No. Then who am I?” You wonder. Then you don’t identify yourself only with your body and mind. That which you are is called soul, hub of the whole wheel. How do you know that? Unless you make your body quiet, breath calm and mind completely resolved, you cannot reach your finest self. You are constantly identifying with the objects of your mind, forgetting your true nature. Your true nature is peace, happiness, and bliss. But you are suffering because you do not know yourself. You know only the small self called body, breath, and mind. You have three selves—mortal self, semi-mortal self, and the immortal Self. The mortal self is this body that goes through change, death, and decay. Semi-mortal self is that which enables you to think. The real Self is that which makes you free, completely free. Then, there are no fears, there are no anxieties, there is no pain.

When you repeatedly do something, you form a habit pattern. What is individuality, what is an individual? An individual is a character composed of habit patterns. You say God created you the way you are. That’s not true. God created you and you are beautiful. You are a most beautiful person. Don’t look at the mirror to admire yourself. You are most beautiful because you are unique, there is no one like you on this earth. No one can be compared with you. So don’t compare yourself with others. You are most beautiful, be aware of this. You are wonderful, be aware of this. God has created you in a wonderful way, try to learn this. So human beings have not attained the next step of civilization because of certain things, not because of God. If God comes down and says, “Ok son, what do you want from me?” What will you say, tell me? “I want to become a millionaire.” “There are many millionaires.” “I want to have two dozen cars.” “There are many people with dozens of cars.” What will you ask of God? What do you want from God? Finally you will say, “God, give me peace.” God will say, “My child, I have given you all the potentials to attain peace.” You can be at peace, you can make your mind tranquil and thus establish peace.

Our deeds, our karma, are the cause of all suffering. How can one live in the world, yet remain unaffected? First you have to understand the inevitable law of karma, which is a universal law, no matter from which community you come from. If you are a Hindu, you’ll have to follow it. If you are a Christian, a Buddhist or of any other religion, you’ll have to follow it. Never forget this universal law, accepted by all the great religions and bibles of the world: as you sow, so shall you reap.

I am doing my actions and I reap the fruits of my actions. And those fruits again motivate me to do actions and there is no end. It becomes a whirlpool. You all boast that you are doing your actions, duties, truthfully and you are right. But there is something missing in your statement. I once asked a housewife, a very gentle, very chaste, very loyal housewife, “Can you sit down for a few minutes?” She wanted to go home, but just to test her I said, “Just sit down for a second.” She replied, “I would like to, but what to do? I have to do my duties.” It means your duty has made you a slave. How to deal with it? You don’t know how to handle it. So the great men say, learn to love your duty then duty will not make you a slave. A simple thing, grease your duty with love. Otherwise your duty will create bondage for you, you cannot live without doing your duty. If you have understood this key, then you will try your best to perform your actions and learn the philosophy of nonattachment which is called love. What we mistakenly call love is actually lust. Love means nonattachment. Love does not mean attachment. Attachment leads to misery and pain, nonattachment gives you freedom. As St. Bernard has said so beautifully, all the things of the world are to be enjoyed but God alone should be loved. Our scriptures also say this.

You have to make a formula if you really want to practice and enjoy life. I’m not telling you to renounce the world and go to the Himalayas with Swami Rama, this is not my point. I want you to live here and enjoy life and yet remain above, as a realized being, a jivan mukta. How is it possible? Many people become swamis and how many swamis disappoint us? I once asked my Master, “What is this fun in the world? So many swamis?” He said, “Look here, everybody has good intentions to do something but they don’t. They are not competent, they are not able, they don’t find the way, so don’t blame anyone. They are trying, they are making efforts.” I said, “Ok. Out of 13,000 swamis I met in my life, I met only three people, rare people.” Then I said, “Why, why this?” He said, “All other swamis are like a hedge, and the rare ones are like the real flowers.” He told me, “Come on. I’ll make a formula for you. Share it with your students, share it with the people who come in touch with you: All the things of the world are meant for you. Please enjoy them. But they are not yours, don’t get attached to them.” You have no right to get attached to them. There is nothing wrong with your enjoyment. If there is anything wrong it’s getting attached. Where are you committing a mistake? You get attached to the things of the world which are not yours. Actually they are meant for you. So the first principle is that all the things of the world are meant for me. I will enjoy them but I will not get attached. Second principle, I will be conscious of the truth or fact that the Lord of life is within me. Thirdly, I will meditate, go within, beyond body, breath, and mind, to enjoy that silence which is the living silence within. If you just follow these principles, you are free.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Meditation as a Whole or a Part?

Swami Jnaneshvara

The picture below captures one of the most confusing aspects of Meditation methods being promoted in our modern world. While the aspects of Meditation listed in the picture below are not intended to be all-inclusive, they are representative of the fact that Meditation, at least in the ancient most Yoga traditions is very broad and and very deep. Yoga Meditation is complete unto itself.

However, it has become popular to take one small part of the whole of Meditation, give it a trademark or brand name, and sell that to an unsuspecting public as a complete Meditation system. The promoters of these fragmented systems often ignore, suppress, or condemn the other practices as being invalid or ineffective methods or parts, further hiding the original whole of Meditation.

This segregating of the part from the whole gives the impression that one must choose "this" or "that" so-called "method" of Meditation. This phenomenon has widely happened not only in "spiritual" contexts, but also in medical and psychological professional services. I'll refrain from naming any of the the brand named or trademarked systems, but you are probably familiar with many of them through the advertising of programs, seminars, and materials such as books.

If one is seeking only a tiny portion of Meditation for purposes such as the "management" of stress, then practicing only a tiny portion of the whole of the process might be sufficient. However, for those seeking the height or depth of self-awareness, spirituality, or enlightenment, the finer practices of Yoga work together, like the fingers of a hand or the various systems within the human body. This is not a case of pasting together or integrating various parts to make a composite whole, as Yoga Meditation is already complete; it is already a whole.

In holding this perspective it is essential to remember that Yoga is far more than the physical postures, which is one of the ways in which the part has become separated from the whole in recent years. The whole of Meditation can be learned and practiced, gradually leading one to know himself or herself at all levels, up to and including the eternal center of consciousness, which is one with the absolute reality, by whatever name you choose to call that.

My wish for the sincere seeker of the highest Truth, Reality or Divinity--however you name that--is that you find the whole of Meditation and the preexisting Whole to which it leads.


The Shortest Shortcut: The Secret to Enlightenment

The Shortest Shortcut: The Secret to Enlightenment

Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

Here it is.
What you've been looking for.
The Shortest Shortcut.
The Secret to Enlightenment.

In loving service,

Swami Jnaneshvara

Ps: Be sure to have your sense of humor when you click on the link:
The Shortest Shortcut: The Secret to Enlightenment



Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Twenty Four Gurus of Dattatreya

From the Srimad Bhagavatam

Once King Yadu saw Lord Dattatreya (Avadhoot) in a forest and addressed him "Sir, you are indeed quite capable, energetic and wise. Such as you are, why do you live in the forest, free from all desires? Even though you have neither kith and kin nor even a family, how could you be so blissful and self-contented?"

The Avadhoot (one who has shaken off all worldly desires) replied, "My bliss and contentment are the fruits of self-realization. I have gained the necessary wisdom from the whole creation, through 24 Gurus. I shall elaborate the same for you".

Shri Dattatreya had twenty-four teachers from nature "many are my preceptors," he told King Yadu, "selected by my keen sense, from whom acquiring wisdom freely, I wander in the world…. The earth, air/breeze, sky, fire, the sun, pigeon, python, sea, moth, elephant, ant, fish, Pingala the courtesan, arrow-maker, infant/playful boy, the moon, honeybee, deer, bird of prey, maiden, serpent, spider, caterpillar and water are my twenty four preceptors.

1. EARTH: All creatures, in accordance with their previous store of karma (action) assume different physical forms and live on earth. People plough, dig and tread the earth. They light fires on it. Still, the earth does not swerve from its course even by a hair’s breadth. On the other hand, it feeds and houses all creatures. Seeing this, I learned that the wise one should never swerve from his vow of patience, love and righteousness under any circumstances and one should dedicate his life for the welfare of living beings. The earth along with its mountains and rivers is my first guru.

2. AIR: I observed that air is pure and odorless in itself. And it blows on both sweet and foul-smelling things without any discrimination or preference. Though it momentarily seems to take on the smell of its surroundings, in a short while, it reveals its pristine quality. From this I learned that a spiritual aspirant should live in the world, unaffected by the dualities of life like joy and sorrow and by the objects of the senses. He should keep his heart’s feeling and his speech unpolluted by vain objects. As I have learned all this by observing it, air is my second guru.

3. SKY: The soul is also like the sky, which is omnipresent. I have noticed that sometimes the sky (or space) gets thickly overcast, or filled with dust or smoke. At sunrise and during night, it apparently takes on different colors. But in fact, it ever retains its colorless self, and it is never touched or stained by any thing. From this I learned that a true sage should remain ever pure like the sky or space, untouched or unaffected by anything in the phenomenal universe in time, including his own physical processes. His inner being is totally free from emotional reaction to things and events even like the space. Thus I accepted the sky or space as my third guru.

4. FIRE: My fourth teacher is the element of fire. Sometimes, it manifests itself as blazing flames; sometimes as smoldering embers, covered by ash. But it is always present in all objects as latent heat. The god of fire accepts the offering of everyone, irrespective of his moral worth and burns down his sins; and it still remains the ever-pure divinity as the fire-god; he is untainted by the sins of such devotees. So too, a sage of perfect realization should accept food of everyone, burn down his sins and bless the giver. Though fire has no specific form of its own, when it is associated with fuel that burns, it assumes such apparent forms. So too, the true Self, though formless in itself, appears in the forms of deities, human beings, animals and trees when it is associated with the respective physical structures. The source of all forms in the universe, as also their end, remains ever mysterious. All the things are manifest only in between their origin and their end. Their source and end is the true Self, which is eternal, unchanging, unmanifest and omnipresent. The nature of the element of fire is such. The manifest fire transforms the various things it consumes into the same ash. So too, the wisdom of self-realization rejects the manifest forms and properties of things as illusion and realizes their one original essence as itself. Thus the element of fire is my fourth guru.

5. SUN: My fifth guru is sun. Though the sun we see in our daily life is one, it appears as many when reflected by water in different vessels. Similarly, the one real Self manifests itself as many selves of living creatures when reflected by their physical structures. As Sun illuminates the many forms in nature to our visions, the sage too illuminates the true nature of all things to his devotees.

6. PIGEON: I have gained wisdom from a pigeon too. Once a pair of pigeons lived together on a tree. They bred their young and were bringing them up with deep affection and love. One day, a hunter caught the young fledglings in a snare. The ladybird, which returned from the forest with food for its young ones, saw their plight and, unable to leave them, she leapt in the snare to share their fate. Shortly after, the male pigeon turned up and, unable to bear the separation from its sweetheart, it too jumped in the snare and met its end. Reflecting on this, I realized how, even after being born as an intelligent human being, man is caught in the coils of possessiveness and brings about his own spiritual destruction. The self, which is originally free, when associated with the body sense, gets identified with it, and thus gets caught in the endless cycle of birth, death and misery. Thus the pigeon was my sixth guru.

7. PYTHON: The python is a sluggard, unwilling to move out briskly for its prey. It lies in its lurch and devours whatever creature it comes across, be it sufficient to appease its hunger. From this I learnt that the man in search of wisdom should refrain from running after pleasures, and accept whatever he gets spontaneously with contentment. Like the python, he should shake off sleep and wakefulness and abide in a state of incessant meditation on the Self. Thus the python was my seventh teacher of wisdom.

8. SEA: Contemplating the marvelous nature of the ocean, I have gained much wisdom. Any number of overflowing rivers may join it, yet the sea maintains its level. Nor does its level fall even by a hair’s breadth in summer, when all the rivers dry up. So too, the joys of life do not elate the sage of wisdom, nor do its sorrows depress him. Just as the sea never crosses its threshold on the beach, the wise one never transgresses the highest standards of morality under the pull of passions. Like the sea, he is unconquerable and cannot be troubled by anything. Like the unfathomable ocean, his true nature and the depths of his wisdom cannot be easily comprehended by anyone. The ocean, which has taught me thus, is my eighth guru.

9. MOTH: I often observed that the moth (or, more precisely, a grasshopper) is tempted by fire to jump in it and get burnt down. So too, the unthinking man is enticed by the illusory pleasures of the senses and thus gets caught in the ceaseless cycles of birth and death. On the other hand, the wise one, when he catches even a glimpse of the fire of wisdom, leaves everything aside, leaps in it and burns down the illusion of being a limited self. Thus the moth was my ninth guru.

10. ELEPHANT: The elephant was my tenth guru. The human beings raise a stuffed cow-elephant in the forest. The wild tusker mistakes it for a mate, approaches it and then skillfully bound in fetters by the cunning human beings. So too, the unregenerate man is tempted by the opposite sex and gets bound by the fetters of infatuation. The seekers after liberation should learn to be free from lust. The elephant was thus one of my teachers.

11. ANT: The ant stores up lots of food materials which it neither eats nor gives away in charity to any other creature. In consequence, other more powerful creatures are tempted to plunder the ants. So too, the man who lays by treasures of merely material things becomes a victim of robbery and murder. But the ant has something positive to teach us, too. It is a tireless worker and is never discouraged by any number of obstacles and setbacks in its efforts to gather its treasure. So too, a seeker after wisdom should be tireless in his efforts for Self-Realization. This noble truth has the little ant taught me and became my eleventh guru.

12. FISH: The fish greedily swallows bait and is at once caught by the angle-hook. From this, I realized how man meets his destruction by his craving for delicious food. When the palate is conquered, all else is conquered. Besides, there is a positive feature in the fish. It never leaves its home, i.e. water. So too, man should never loose sight of his true Self, but should ever have his being in it. Thus the fish became my twelfth guru.

13. PINGALA: The thirteenth guru that has awakened my spirit is a prostitute named Pingala. One day, she eagerly awaited a particular client in the hope that he would pay her amply. She waited and waited till late in the night. When he did not turn up, she was at last disillusioned and reflected thus: "Alas! How stupid I am! Neglecting the divine spirit within, who is of the nature of bliss eternal, I foolishly awaited a debauchee (sensualist) who inspires my lust and greed. Henceforth, I shall expend myself on the Self, unite with Him and win eternal joy. Through such repentance, she attained blessedness. Besides, reflecting on its obvious purport, I also realized that a spiritual aspirant should likewise reject the lure of lesser spiritual powers, which are mere by-products of sadhana (spiritual practice). I learned that the temptation to secure things from other’s hands are the seeds of misery; that renunciation of these is the sole means of realizing infinite joy.

14. ARROW-MAKER: Once I observed an arrow-maker who was totally absorbed in molding a sharp arrow. He grew so oblivious of all else that he did not even notice a royal pageant that passed by. This sight awakened me to the truth that such single-minded, all-absorbing contemplation of the Self spontaneously eliminates all temptation for the trivial interests of the world. It is the sole secret of success in spiritual discipline. Thus the arrow-maker is my fourteenth guru.

15. PLAYFUL BOY: Little boys and girls know neither honor nor dishonor. They do not nurse a grudge or a prejudice against anyone. They do not know what is their own, or what belongs to others. Their happiness springs from their own selves, their innate creativity and they do not need any external objects or conditions to be happy. I realized that the sage of perfect enlightenment is also such. A playful boy thus happened to be my fifteenth guru.

16. MOON: Of all things in nature, the moon is unique. It appears to wax and wane during the bright and dark fortnights. In fact, the lunar globe ever remains the same. In this, it is like the self of the man. While a man appears to pass through the stages of infancy, boyhood, youth, maturity and old age, his real self remains unchanged. All changes pertain only to body and not to the self. Again, the moon only reflects the light of the sun, but has no such of its own. So too, the soul or mind of man is only a reflection of the light of awareness of the real Self. Having taught this truth, the moon became my sixteenth guru.

17. HONEYBEE: Honeybee wanders from flower to flower and, without hurting them in the least, draws honey. So too, a spiritual seeker should study all the Holy Scriptures but retain in his heart, only that which is essential for his spiritual practice. Such is the teaching I imbibed from my seventeenth guru, the honeybee.

18. DEER: It is said that deers are very fond of music and that poachers employ it to lure them before hunting them. From this, I learned that passions and sensual desires will soon bog down a spiritual aspirant who has a weakness for merely secular music, till he ultimately loses whatever spiritual progress he has achieved earlier. The deer that taught me this truth is my eighteenth guru.

19. BIRD OF PREY: A bird of prey is my nineteenth guru. One day, I saw one such carrying away a dead rat. Many other birds like crows and eagles attacked it, now kicking on its head and again pecking on its sides in their endeavor to knock off the prey. The poor bird was thus very much pestered. At last, it wisely let its prey fall and all the other birds rushed after it. Thus freeing itself from so much botheration, it sighed in relief. From this, I learned that a man who runs after worldly pleasures will soon come into clash with his fellow-beings who too run for the same, and has to face much strife and antagonism. If he learns to conquer his craving for worldly things, he can spare himself much unhappiness. I realized that this is the only way to the peace in the world.

20. MAIDEN: Once, I observed a family visit a maiden’s house, seeking her hand in marriage for their son. At that time, her mother was away from home. So the maiden herself had to entertain the guests with refreshments. She at once started pounding food-grains with a pestle. The bangles on her hand started knocking against each other, pounding sound. She was afraid that the guests might hear the sound and be unhappy for having caused her so much of trouble. As a Hindu maiden, she is not expected to remove all the bangles on her hand at any time. So she kept two on each hand and removed all the rest. Even then, they were knocking against each other and were making noise. So she kept only one bangle on each hand this time and she could finish her task in quiet. Reflecting on this, I realized that when a number of spiritual seekers live together, a lot of unwanted gossip ensues and no spiritual practice can be pursued with a single-minded effort. Only in solitude, a spiritual aspirant can carry his task. Knowing this truth, I henceforth resorted to solitude. Thus, a maiden happened to be my twentieth guru.

21. SERPENT: I observed that a serpent never builds a dwelling for itself. When white ants have raised an anthill for themselves, the serpent eventually come to inhabit it. Similarly, worldly people have to endure many hardships in raising houses for themselves, while a recluse monk does no such thing. Worldly men raise the monasteries and the monk lives in them; or, he leaves in old dilapidated temples, or underneath shady trees. The serpent moults, leaving off its old skin. So too at the end of his life Yogi leaves his body deliberately and in full awareness of his own true self and is not frightened by the phenomenon of death. On the other hand, he casts off his old body as happily as he does his worn out clothes and dons new ones. Thus has my twenty first guru taught me.

22. SPIDER: The spider is my twenty second guru. It weaves its web from the thread in the form of a fluid. After sometime, it gathers up the web into itself. The supreme projects the whole creation out of itself and after sometime, withdraws it into itself at the time of dissolution. The individual soul too, bears the senses and the mind within itself and, at its birth as a human being or any other living creature, it projects them out as the sense organs, organs of action and the whole body. In accordance with its latent tendencies, the creature thus born, gathers up all the means and objects needed for its living. At the end of its life’s duration, the soul again withdraws the senses, mind and acquired tendencies at the hour of death. Thus have I learned from the spider.

23. CATERPILLAR: The caterpillar is also one of my teachers of wisdom. The wasp carries its caterpillar to a safe corner and closes it up in its nest and goes on buzzing about it. The young caterpillar is so frightened by the incessant buzzing, that it cannot think of anything else than the buzzing wasp. Through such unintermittent contemplation of its mother, the caterpillar too, soon grows up into a wasp! In a like fashion, a true disciple is so charmed and over-awed by the spiritual eminence of his own guru that he cannot think of any one other than him. Through such contemplation, he soon blossoms into a great spiritual master himself. The caterpillar is thus my twenty third Guru.

24. WATER: Water is my twenty fourth Guru. It quenches the thirst of every creature, sustains innumerable trees and all creatures. While it thus serves all living beings, it is never proud of itself. On the other hand, it humbly seeks the lowliest of places. The sage too should likewise bestow health, peace and joy to every creature that resorts to him. Yet he should ever live as the humblest of God’s creation.

With such humility and devotion, I looked upon the whole of God’s creation as my teacher, gathered up wisdom and, through patient effort I realized my goal of spiritual enlightenment.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Swami Rama: I don't have time (Video)


Swami Rama

Modern man has a problem.
He always complains about time.
I don't have time.
You don't need so much time.
You have time to go to bathroom for your ablutions.
You have time to eat.
You have time to gossip.
You have time to talk.
You have time to cry, laugh, and do many things.
How come you don't have time to sit in meditation?
It's a dire necessity.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Purna: The Full, Infinite, Whole, Complete

From web page:
Endless loop audio:

The Isha Upanishad starts with the famous and insightful verse:

Om Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya
Purnameva Vashishyate
Om shanti, shanti, shanti

There are many translations and commentaries on this verse, each of which adds a different slant on the vast meaning. In some sense, a complete explanation of the nature of Reality and the entire wisdom of the path of Self-Realization is contained in this short summary. Here are seven translations:

That is infinite, this is infinite;
From That infinite this infinite comes.
From That infinite, this infinite removed or added;
Infinite remains infinite.
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

That is full; this is full.
This fullness has been projected from that fullness.
When this fullness merges in that fullness,
all that remains is fullness.
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

Completeness is that, completeness is this,
from completeness, completeness comes forth.
Completeness from completeness taken away,
completeness to completeness added,
completeness alone remains.
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

Brahman is limitless, infinite number
of universes come out
and go into the infinite Brahman,
Brahman remains unchanged.
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

That is the whole, this is the whole;
from the whole, the whole becomes manifest;
taking away the whole from the whole,
the whole remains.
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

That is the absolute, this is the absolute;
from the absolute, the absolute becomes manifest;
when the absolute is added to or taken away from the absolute,
the absolute remains.
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

That is reality, this is reality;
from the reality, the reality becomes manifest;
adding or subtracting reality from reality,
only reality remains.
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Conversation on Religion, Mysticism, and Yoga

AUDIO PODCAST: Religion, mysticism and yoga conversation with Swami Jnaneshvara being interviewed by Ron Frazer. This recording is a podcast by Ron Frazer ( who I have come to know quite well through an interfaith group in Florida, as well as private conversations. Ron is of the Bahai faith and asked me if he could have some of my comments on religion, mysticism and yoga. He also has kindly allowed me to copy his podcast here for you. I hope you find the conversation enjoyable and insightful.

Click here to open the podcast

The podcast can be also be accessed through podcast page

The podcast can be also be accessed through any of the following links:

(You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes,,, and The podcast sites take up to 24 hours to post, and may not be updated at the time you are reading this blog.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

About the Words "Hindu" and "Hinduism"

About the Words "Hindu" and "Hinduism"
Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

The words "Hindu" and "Hinduism" are described in different ways by different people. The origins and usages of the terms are not universally agreed upon. As you'll see in the references below, Hindu and Hinduism have been variously used to describe one or another of culture, geography, or religion. Some say that the terms were not used by the indigenous people until fairly recently in history, brought on by foreign peoples and governments, not their own evolution. The original term used for the teachings of the region is Dharma or Sanatana Dharma. There is a movement in the world today to reestablish these terms, either along side of, or instead of the terms "Hindu" and "Hinduism".

Below are some quotes on the words "Hindu" and "Hinduism". These references are not intended as academic or scholarly proofs or arguments used to win a debate. Because they are only offered as a most general overview, source information is not included. It is also not intended that any one of these quotes are necessarily more or less authoritative than others, but rather to provide enough discussion that it's easy for the reader to get a feel for the issue. It's easy to find many such references through internet searches and books. Through one's own research and reflection, each person can draw his or her own conclusions about the meanings and uses of the words "Hindu" and "Hinduism," as well as the words "Dharma" and "Sanatana Dharma".


"The word 'Hindu' occurs nowhere in the classical scriptures of Hinduism. The ancestors of the present day Hindus did not identify themselves as Hindus."

"When Western scholars and Christian missionaries arrived on the scene, the Hindus found their faith tradition 'ism'-ized and its name became 'Hinduism'."

"The word Hindu is not a religious word. It is secular in origin. It is derived from the word Sindhu, which is the name of a major river that flows in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. The ancient Greeks and Armenians used to refer the people living beyond the river Sindhu as Hindus and gradually the name struck. When the Muslims came to the sub continent they called the people living in the region as Hindustanis to distinguish them from the foreign Muslims. Subsequently when the British established their rule, they started calling the local religions collectively under the name of Hinduism."

"Only 180 years ago Raja Ram Mohan Roy coined the word 'Hindu' to describe the huge variety of faiths and sects with similar but not identical philosophies, myths and rituals."

"According to the New Encyclopedia Britannica 20:581, 'Hinduism' was a name given in English language in the Nineteenth Century by the English people to the multiplicity of the beliefs and faiths of the people of the Indus land. The British writers in 1830 gave the word 'Hinduism' to be used as the common name for all the beliefs of the people of India excluding the Muslims and converted Christians."

"According to our ex-President [India] and scholar Dr S Radhakrishnan, the term 'Hindu' had originally a territorial and not credal significance. It implies residence in a well-defined geographical area."

"Surprisingly, though Hinduism is a very ancient religion, the word 'Hinduism', which today defines it and distinguishes it from the rest of the religions, is of much later origin. In ancient India you had either a yogi, a bhakta, a tantric, a sanyasi, a sankhya vadin, a vedantin, a lokayata, a rishi, a muni, a pandit, a pragna, a yogini, a devi, a swami, a Saivite, a Vaishnavite, a siddha or Buddha, but no Hindu."

"The Supreme Court [of India] in the course of deciding an appeal in an election petition, has interpreted the meaning of 'Hindutva' and 'Hinduism' as a "synonym of 'Indianisation' -- i.e. development of uniform culture by obliterating the differences between all all cultures co-existing in the country.' The unanimous judgement given by the three-judge bench consisting of Justices J.S. Verma, N.P. Singh and K. Venkataswami, on December 11, 1995, has quoted earlier Supreme Court judgements and opinions of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Toynbee and others in coming to the conclusion that Hinduism represented a way of life."

"The Supreme Court [of India] bench dealt with the meaning of the word 'Hindutva' or 'Hinduism' when used in election propaganda. The court came to the conclusion that the words 'Hinduism' or 'Hindutva' are not necessarily to be understood and construed narrowly, confined only to the strict Hindu religious practices unrelated to the culture and ethos of the People of India depicting the way of life of the Indian people. Unless the context of a speech indicates a contrary meaning or use, in the abstract, these terms are indicative more of a way of life of the Indian people. Unless the context of a speech indicates a contrary meaning or use, in the abstract, these terms are indicative more of a way of life of the Indian people and are not confined merely to describe persons practicing the Hindu religion as a faith. This clearly means that, by itself, the word 'Hinduism' or 'Hindutva' indicates the culture of the people of India as a whole, irrespective of whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews etc."

"The word 'Hinduism' was coined by European travelers and traders in the 16th century."

"It is interesting to note that the word Hindu is neither Sanskrit nor Dravidian and did not originate in India. It was not used by Indians in their descriptions or writings until the 17th century. If we go by the original definition of the word Hindu, any one who lives in the subcontinent is a Hindu and whatever religion he or she practices is Hinduism. The word Hindu is a secular word and literally translated it means Indian and the word Hinduism denotes any religion or religions that are practiced by the multitude of people living in the land beyond the river Indus."

"It is hard to define Hinduism, let alone defend it. This is the reason when someone asks the question, 'Who is a Hindu or what is Hinduism?' a variety of answers are given. The most appropriate answer perhaps is a long pause and then silence. The confusion that has been propagated in the religion over many centuries has made it prohibitive even to define the word Hinduism."

"Unfortunately Hinduism is represented as monolithic. However, there is no essential Hinduism, no single belief system, and no central authority."

"The Hidden Hindus... include at least 1-2 million non-Indian Americans (Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics, etc.) who practice Yoga, meditation, vegetarianism, believe in reincarnation and karma, study the Vedic scriptures, etc., but who –- despite the fact that they are practicing Sanatana Dharma -- will not call themselves 'Hindu', and do not understand that they are part of an ancient and living religious tradition. We need to do everything in our power to bring these two communities together, to bridge this gap".

"That even an atheist may be called a Hindu is an example of the fact that Hinduism is far beyond a simple religious system, but actually an extremely diverse and complicated river of evolving philosophies and ancient traditions."

"It is well known among scholars of South Asian religion that the word 'Hinduism' is a term of convenience--a blanket name for a wide variety of religious practices, beliefs and worldviews that some times have little common ground beyond their Indian origins. Ironically, Hinduism is not an indigenous word to any of the traditions it labels."

"It should be pointed out that the word 'Hindu' is not found in any of the classical writings of India. Nor can it be traced to the classical Indian languages, such as Sanskrit or Tamil. In fact, the word 'Hinduism' has absolutely no origins within India itself. Still, it persists, and traditions as diverse as Shaivism and Jainism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism, have been described as 'Hinduism.' This may work as a matter of convenience, but ultimately it is inaccurate."

"Hinduism has one of the most genetically and ethnically diverse body of adherents in the world. It is hard to classify Hinduism as a religion, as the framework, symbols, leaders and books of reference that make up a typical religion are not uniquely identified in the case of Hinduism. Most commonly it can be seen as a 'way of life' which gives rise to many civilized forms of religions. Hinduism, its religious doctrines, traditions and observances are very typical and inextricably linked to the culture and demographics of India."

"Using the overarching term 'Hinduism' for the many religions of India is comparable to ignoring the different religious orientations within each of the Western traditions, arbitrarily merging them under a single banner—'Semitism' (which, like 'Hinduism,' merely denotes geographical location). Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other constitute the diverse religious traditions of the Western world. Just as the term Semitism is too broad and reductionistic to represent properly the unique religious manifestation of the great Western traditions, and just as it would be inappropriate to refer to all these traditions as one religion, the term Hinduism falls short."

"The word Hindu is also not mentioned in holy books, Upanishads, Shashtras and Valmiki Ramayan, Shatpath Brahmin Granth etc. And in these holy books there is not any word Hindus or sects or caste system, where as it is clearly mentioned in every chapter of thereof that there is only one God of the Universe."

"According to Jawaharlal Nehru, the earliest reference to the word 'Hindu' can be traced to a Tantrik book of the eighth century C.E., where the word means a people, and not the followers of a particular religion. The use of the word 'Hindu' in connection with a particular religion is of very late occurrence."

"If you examine ancient Indian history and religion, you will find that the word 'Hindu dharma' is not used to describe what is today called 'Hinduism'."

"The word Hindu is relatively modern and is derived from the word Sindhu which means red. The Arabs called the Sindhu river the Indus river since they could not pronounce the S-sound. Thus, the people west of the Sindhu river came to be known as the Hindus and the country got its name India. The original name for the country was Bharata Varsha - the land of Bharata, the king who ruled the country in ancient times. The true name of the religion is Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana means ancient and eternal. Dharma means moral duty. The word Sanatana Dharma connotes a Universal Way of Life for all living entities."

"The word 'hindu' is a non-Indian word, it's origin is Persian/Arabic. It's original meaning is 'dog,' 'low life' or 'slave'."

"The word 'Hindu' means. a liar, a slave, a black, an infidel, in short, a man possessed of every evil to be found in the world; while the term Arya means a pious, a learned, a noble, and a wise man, devoted to the true worship of the Eternal. With this explanation, I dare conclude that no man of common sense would like to be called a Hindu, when once he knows its meaning."

"It should be noted that the word 'Hindu' originally referred to any inhabitant of the Indian subcontinent, or Hind, not followers of the religion as it does now."

"If we see in the four thousand years worth of religious literature in India we cannot find a single reference to the word 'Hinduism' anywhere! 'Hinduism' is a word concocted by Europeans to refer to the myriad streams of religious faiths in the land of Hindustan."

"The word 'Hinduism' itself is a geographical term based upon the Sanskrit name for the great river that runs across the northern boundaries of India, known as the Sindhu."

"The word Hinduism is not found in the 'hindu' religion. In fact there is no such thing as the 'hindu' religion."

"The word 'Hinduism' was introduced in the 19th century to define the aggregate beliefs of the Arya, immigrants who left Central Asia in 1500 BC, and animist religions of native populations in India.""The word 'Hindu' is not found in any Hindu religious text or any other ancient writing. People who lived on the western side of Hindu Kush (killers of Hindus) mountains gave this name to the natives of India. The word Hindu means black, slave, robber, thief and a waylayer."

"Until about 19th century, the term 'Hindu' implied a culture and ethnicity and not religion alone. When the British government started periodic census and established a legal system, need arose to define 'Hinduism' as a clearly-defined religion, along the lines of Christianity or Islam."

"The word 'Hinduism' originated about only 200-300 years ago."

"Beginning around 1000 AD, invading armies from the Middle East called the place beyond the Sindhu 'Hindustan' and the people who lived there the 'Hindus'"

"Today most Western scholars seem resigned to the inconclusiveness of the project of defining Hinduism. Some decline to use the word 'Hinduism' at all, or prefer to use it only in the plural, 'Hinduisms.'"

"At a very early date, Persian explorers entered the Indian subcontinent from the far Northwest. After they returned, they published chronicles. But due to the phonetics of their native Persian language, the 'S' of Sind became an aspirated 'H.' This is how the people of the Indus Valley came to be known generically as "Hindus" by the Persians. This flawed intonation inevitably stuck. And was later re-imported when the invading Moguls conquered India. Since they always referred to the locals as "Hindus," the term was adopted by the Indians themselves as a way of distinguishing native culture from that of the foreign Muslims."

"The word Hinduism was coined by the Muslim scholar Alberuni in the 11th century C.E."

"Various origins for the word 'Hinduism' have been suggested: It may be derived from an ancient inscription translated as: 'The country lying between the Himalayan mountain and Bindu Sarovara is known as Hindusthan by combination of the first letter 'hi' of 'Himalaya' and the last compound letter 'ndu' of the word `Bindu.' Bindu Sarovara is called the Cape Comorin sea in modern times."

"According to the Hindu Scholars, Hinduism is a misnomer and the religion ‘Hinduism’ should be either referred to as ‘Sanatana Dharma’, which means eternal religion, or as Vedic Dharma, meaning religion of the Vedas. According to Swami Vivekananda, the followers of this religion are referred to as Vendantists."

"The word Hinduism is an incorrect nomenclature, which was coined by the British. Thereafter, it has stuck due to the ignorance of its followers. The term 'ism' refers to an ideology that is to be propagated and by any method imposed on others for e.g. Marxism, socialism, communism, imperialism and capitalism but the Hindus have no such 'ism'. Hindus follow the continuum process of evolution; for the Hindus do not have any unidirectional ideology, therefore, in Hindu Dharma there is no place for any 'ism'. Hindus are democratic in approach, for each individual is free to adopt any philosophy or way to self-realization."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Living without Two Kinds of IED that Destroy Civilizations and Religions

Living without Two Kinds of IED that Destroy Civilizations and Religions
Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

We hear much these days from media and leaders of how IEDs or Improvised Explosive Devices are symbols of terrorists trying to destroy civilizations and religions. However, there is another kind of IED that is also extremely destructive, possibly even more destructive historically. It is an IED that the world has cyclically seen used for many centuries, and which seems to be on the rise in recent decades. This IED comes in many disguises, but also has as its goal the destruction of civilizations and religions. This IED is the Insidious Evangelical Device.

The users of this weapon have already successfully destroyed many civilizations and religions throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe over the past thousand or more years. They continue their onslaught today and there is no reason to believe that these IEDs will not continue to be used in the foreseeable future. Sometimes the proponents of this IED even refer to themselves as warriors or crusaders, leaving little room for doubt about their approaches and motives. Unlike an Improvised Explosive Device, which is a mechanical device, a bomb, this IED, the Insidious Evangelical Device, is itself a human being who invades the communities, countries, cultures and civilizations of other people, proselytizing that theirs is the only way.

As a man or woman may have eyes only for his or her own spouse, one may passionately love her or his chosen teacher, deity and religion. However, people thinking that theirs is the only valid, authentic, legitimate or true teacher, deity or religion is like people thinking that theirs is the only valid, authentic, legitimate or true spouse and marriage. When that limited view is coupled with a sense of duty to change and dominate other people, the result can be extremely destructive to civilizations and religions.

Unfortunately, many people of such views are in very high government and corporate positions, and use their power to overtly or covertly maneuver others to carry out their missions. The proselytizing and manipulative conversions are in effect government and corporate sponsored acts of aggression, violence, ignorance and arrogance. These politically powerful people easily navigate through the legal systems and world communities of governments in such a way that they create the appearance that it is others who are the religiously intolerant because of not sanctioning their conversion dogma.

To divert attention from their actions these extremists call the other extremists extreme; the radicals call the radicals radical. Unless wisdom comes to prevail, history may again be repeated, with millions more slaughtered because of these myopic Insidious Evangelical Devices who, although a minority, have a very loud, effective voice of destruction.

Improvised Explosive Devices are vicious weapons that need to be abandoned by the community of humankind. But Insidious Evangelical Devices are also vicious weapons that need to be renounced for the shared benefit of all peoples of the world. If humanity wants the world to be a better place, we will need to first set aside our ignorance and habits of mind that set the stage for both of these forms of IEDs.

People of religions and spiritual traditions that do not participate in conversion need to be more outspoken about this, rather than shrink in silence so as to not offend the proselytizers. People of religions and spiritual traditions that do promote conversions, but do not personally agree with these conversion philosophies, also need to be more outspoken about this, rather than timidly turn a blind eye so as to avoid the fear of being shunned by their religious peers.

All religions, cultures and civilizations evolve over time. Let the followers of the conversion religions, denominations and sects rethink their priorities and set aside their outdated habits, and reclaim the higher spiritual values of accepting and loving all, and excluding none. If there ever was a time in human history when a proselytizing, converting type of religion was of use, that time has passed, as our world has become so small due to communications and transportation.

We must see that we are all trees of the same forest, waves of the same ocean, stars of the same sky, and humans of the same humanity, though we may conceptualize this principle in vastly different ways. This does not mean that we need to merge all the religions into one mega-religion, or all the civilizations into one mega-civilization. Tolerance needs to mean not a mere grudging acceptance of a persistent annoyance, but a loving admiration for the diversity of civilizations and religions that exists within the unity of humanity. This may seem a mere dream, but we humans have done many amazing things that began as only dreams. Maybe through our dreams, devotion and efforts we can learn to live without either kind of IED.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Yoga Nidra and Samskaras

QUESTION: After reading your site I have a couple of interrelated questions to pose, With yoga nidra is it possible to select unpleasant samskaras to eliminate rather than any samskara? and how do I witness a specific pre-chosen samskara without accessing pictures / voices / my internal voice?

PARTIAL RESPONSE: If you call up a picture on the monitor of your computer, you can look at the picture. You can open a sound file and listen to it through the speakers. But how would you look at the photo or listen to the sound on the hard drive itself, without a mircroprocessor and without a monitor or speakers? Can you see and hear the bits and bytes of binary language on the hard drive? Similarly, impressions at the causal level, the plane of samskaras, are formless. You are stuck with that confusion. Meditation and contemplation will eventually reveal this to you. Yoga nidra is a method of accessing the causal, formless level. Keep reading the articles and doing the practices and insights will come.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Witnessing and the Self

QUESTION: I would like to ask you a clarifying question regarding witnessing. Is the world of objects, experienced through the senses, a projection of the Self within? In another words, is what is seen, heard, touched, smelled and tasted a projection from the Self? A projection that goes through the various layers of ones being, is tinted by those layers, and flows outward through the senses. And when this projection flows outward, for example I look and see a tree, this projection stirs some memories in Chitta and then the Self get all caught up with the memories brought on by the projection of the tree. As a result does the Self get all caught up with it own projections? However, when witnessing, is the Self stepping back and witnessing both the objects of the world and the thoughts that arise from Chitta? Is this what is happening when I look at the world around me and at the same time witness the thoughts flowing through the mind?

PARTIAL RESPONSE: There are two aspects to this, of which one is more important than the other. First, the projection outward. Technically true, but can sound like so much wordy philosophy. Leaves one bewiledered about how "I" made all this mess. The other part is systematically stepping back inward. That is the sadhana that reveals the process, and which eventually reveals the Self. Then it makes sense about the projection part. We look out as if through the many lenses inside of a long telescope. The object is seen by the lens called physical eyes; that by the lens of mental "eye"; that by the lens of mind; that by the lens of intelligence; that by the lens of individuation, and then, finally the Self. It's tough philosophy, yet elegantly simple.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Who's Driving Your Chariot?

Swami Jnaneshvara

The chariot is used by the ancient sages as a symbol for how to train
your mind and senses. Though most of us do not use horse drawn
chariots, the lesson is as practical today as it was thousands of
years ago. Allow your mind to visualize this image, and it will
become a wonderful tool in your daily spiritual life.

ROADS: The many roads down which the chariot may travel are the
countless objects of desire in the world and our memory.

HORSES: The ten horses are the ten senses (indriyas) through which we relate to the external world by perception and action.

REINS: The reins are the mind (manas) through which the sensesreceive their instructions to act and perceive.

CHARIOTEER: The charioteer is the higher intellect (buddhi), which issupposed to be the wise giver of instructions to the mind.

PASSENGER: The passenger is the Self, the Atman, the pure center ofconsciousness, which is always the neutral witness. (See koshas)

CHARIOT: The chariot itself is the physical body, the instrumentthrough which the Self, intellect, mind, and senses operate.


For many of us, much of the time, the charioteer is not on duty. Thereins called mind are flapping around freely without the properguidance of our inner wisdom. When the reins are free, they give noinstructions to the horses called senses. The horses (senses) roamfreely down any road they feel pulled towards in the moment, inresponse to their memories of the past (chitta). The chariot (body)takes a beating, the horses (senses) get tired, the reins (mind) getfrayed, and the charioteer (intelligence) gets lazy. The passenger iscompletely ignored.


The solution to the problem is to retrain the charioteer(intelligence) to pick up the reins (mind) and start giving somedirection to the horses (senses). This training is called sadhana, orspiritual practices. It means training all of the levels of ourselvesso that we might experience the still, silent, eternal center.


As the charioteer (intelligence) becomes more stabilized in beingback on the job, there is an ever increasing awareness of the factthe the entire purpose of the chariot, horses, reins, and charioteer,are to serve as instruments for the passenger, the true Self.


Coordinating the Four Functions of Mind
Training the Ten Senses or Indriyas
Self, Five Koshas or Sheaths

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iTunes / / /
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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Money, Sex, Fame, Health, Self and Yoga

From this webpage:

It is also on an AUDIO podcast, which can be accessed through any of the following links: podcast page
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Swami Jnaneshvara

Everybody wants happiness. However, we usually seek it in ways that are dependent on external stimulus, as if an outer cause leads to an inner effect of happiness. Surely this process of stimulus-response works to some degree; we have all experienced this in different ways, where getting what we want seems to make us feel good, and not getting what we want seems to make us feel bad. However, what if we knew how to be happy without any stimulus whatsoever? What if you could just rest in the deepest feeling of joy, regardless of the external circumstances?

There seems to be two polarities. Either we think we don't have enough money, or we are striving to have more so as to feel secure and affluent, pursuing what has come to be sold as prosperity or abundance consciousness. Either we don't have a good relationship, or we seek to find the ideal partner so that we will feel whole, complete and needed. Either we feel lonely and unknown, or we strive to be famous in some way, to receive accolades in our personal or professional lives from our family, friends, peers, or community, so as to feel exuberant with pride. Either we have questionable health or active disease, doing little for our body with diet or exercise, or we ardently pursue physical fitness and battle disease so as to feel the satisfaction of conquering the body.

It often appears that there only these two polarities and that we have no other choice but these two. Either we stay stuck where we are, or we seek these seemingly higher goals. It is extremely common for people to use "spiritual" methods such as meditation, contemplation, prayer and mantra to attain these goals. There are many lectures, seminars, books, video and audio programs on how to do this. We are repeatedly told that we can have anything we want, that all we have to do is visualize it, and the universe or God will provide it for us. It is very easy to not see the ego drive behind this approach to spiritual life. It means we are measuring spiritual success by our bank account, sex life, popularity and physical situation. It doesn't take a great deal of reflection to see that these are reframes of attachment, hedonism or greed, which have generally been seen as obstacles to attenuate, rather than goals to be attained.

However, there is a third choice, which is far beyond this oversimplified perspective of having or not having the objects or circumstances of our desire world. There is a way of being, a higher goal, that has nothing to do with whether our desires are, or are not fulfilled. In fact, it completely transcends the issue of desire. This is not to suggest that one should starve in poverty, grieve with loneliness, mourn in desolation, or suffer in physical pain.

Imagine for a moment that you were in such a state of mind that you always felt complete, regardless of whether or not you have any money at all. Imagine for a moment that you truly felt whole, with or without any other partner being in your life. Imagine for a moment that you felt at complete peace, even if no person had ever heard of your name or accomplishments. Imagine for a moment that you were in constant contact with that level of your being that was never born, is not and cannot be diseased, and can never die, and is not subject to any other of the impermanent vagaries of the physical body. To know the Self, the Atman or Purusha, the center of consciousness is to rest in the awareness of, to realize that which is beyond all of these surface level sufferings. It is to seek the awareness of the pre-existing wholeness or union that is sometimes called Yoga.

This can sound like a campaign promoting poverty, loneliness, isolation and decay. Those promoting the worldly solutions will often sell their wares in this way, by saying that words such as these are designed to leave people where they are, or to be miserable in life, as if these words are suggesting some future afterlife will be more fulfilling. This is very far from the message of pursuing Self-Realization. One who seeks to know the eternal, pure, ever-joyous center of consciousness can easily live in the world, and enjoy the objects of the world at the same time. Such a person can and will naturally have all that is needed, will have close relationships, will have active and enriching engagement with the community, and will naturally move toward physical health and well being. However, those are not the goals, but are the natural byproducts of sincerely, passionately seeking that single higher goal.

Mind is very tricky. It will try to reason that, "Okay, so to get money, sex, fame and health I need to pursue enlightenment. Good, let me do that, so that I get what I want." That is a game of the mind. The primary goal of seeking the direct experience of that eternally joyous center of consciousness is being skipped over once again, in the name of the lesser goals. However, one who repeatedly seeks that single, higher goal, by whatever name you choose to call it, will find that those secondary goals come easily. They become pleasant experiences of life, but can have no effect whatsoever on whether "I" am feeling "good" or "I" am feeling "bad." One who knows the Self, the Atman can live in the world, but yet be above the world. Even for one who has not attained permanent awareness of this Self, which is the Self of all, but who is consciously, persistently, though gently pursuing it, will find that the other pleasures will come, resting on the foundation of the higher.

This is so elegantly simple and profoundly practical, bringing such grand results, that it can be repeatedly overlooked. By being ever mindful that the highest joy is already there, in the inner chamber of our being, in fact, being who we really are, life becomes very straightforward and happy. Moving towards this one goal brings many fruits along the way. Life becomes poetry and song, filled with joy. And one day, when least expected, when, in a moment, there is no expectation at all, the Self, Truth, or God is revealed, and that leaves all of the other pleasant experiences pale by comparison to this which is incomparable and inexplicable.