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.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You are the Architect of Your Life

From: The Essence of Spiritual Life
By Swami Rama
ISBN 8190100491
Reprinted with permission of the Publisher
Copyright Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust

Swami Rama

When a human being learns to seek religion not in gods, but in his own potentials, then he will know that he is great and that within his greatness lies his happiness. When he rapidly unfolds the chapters of life's manuscript, of which he himself is the author, he begins to realize who he is.

You are the architect of your life. You build your own philosophy and construct your own attitudes. Without right attitudes, the entire architecture remains shaky. Once you realize this fact, you will look within.

Once you turn your focus inward, the process of transformation will begin, and naturally you will become aware of many levels of consciousness. You will find that the capacity to know yourself is within, and this realization will become a source of fulfillment to you. The sages in the past have experienced this fact, and have documented their experiences.

Unfortunately, people in the modern era do not know how to benefit from the wisdom of the sages. As a result, people are still searching for happiness in the external world.

If you study life's journey, when you start unfolding yourself and experiencing life and its necessities, you will find throughout that life is full of changes and modifications. Let you learn to enjoy life from moment to moment and do not worry about the future. If you take care of your present, the future will be at your disposal, and one day you will find out that you are the architect of your life.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Christian Yoga and Clergy Indirectly Promoting Traditional Yoga


Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

Whether there is or is not such a thing as "Christian Yoga," it has become a quite controversial topic recently. Many so-called Yoga teachers claim that Yoga is just a physical fitness or alternative health program, and therefore has no conflict whatsoever with Christianity. Meanwhile, many Christians argue that Yoga is a religion and should therefore not be practiced in any form by the Christian faithful. Still other Christians bridge both of these views by creating a new category that they call "Christian Yoga."

For thousands of years Yoga has been a universal process leading to subtle spiritual realization or direct experience, regardless of the religious orientation of the practitioner. Many of the principles of traditional Yoga are contained in the esoteric or mystical teachings of virtually all of the world's most known religions, including not only those of the South Asia region, but also those of the Judeo-Christian heritage. It has often and correctly been said that Yoga is in religion, but that religion is not in Yoga.

A big part of the confusion about Yoga and "Christian Yoga" stems from the fact that modern so-called Yoga teachers and their institutions, particularly in America, have significantly distorted or devolved the authentic, traditional Yoga of the sages. By attempting to reduce Yoga to a mere physical therapy or medical treatment, they have effectively thrown out the spiritual roots and goals of Yoga.

Modern Yoga styles and studios emphasize postures. The Sanskrit word for posture is "asana" and the root of that is "~as" which means "to sit." The Yoga Sutras (ca 2nd century BCE) is one of the most known of the ancient texts on traditional Yoga. According to the Yoga Sutras, asana or sitting posture is rung three of eight rungs of Yoga, and the purpose of that is meditation and the deep absorption known as samadhi, rungs seven and eight. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (ca 15th century CE) is the most known traditional text that describes physical postures. Even a glancing overview of that text will quickly reveal the true goals of Hatha Yoga as also being the awakening of the subtle energy known as kundalini, and the subsequent experience of samadhi.

Ironically, it is the Christians opposed to Yoga who seem to indirectly be doing the most in the US to promote the truer meaning of Yoga, although it is self-evident that this is not their intent. Most of the Christian critics emphasize the orthodox or exoteric practices of their religion, and either fail to see, or are opposed to the esoteric or mystical roots of their own traditions. Because of this, they also either fail to see the utility of traditional Yoga for their adherents, or are opposed to it. While they are wrong in saying that Yoga itself is a religion, they are most definitely right in pointing out the spiritual goals of Yoga.

The Christian clergy and the followers of Christianity who are most outspoken against either Yoga or "Christian Yoga" need to be acknowledged and appreciated for doing so much to promote authentic, traditional Yoga. They are quite blunt in their descriptions of how Yoga is a spiritual practice. While they make the mistake of saying that Yoga is a religion, which it is not, Yoga is most definitely spiritual in nature. Even the proponents of "Christian Yoga" are effectively promoting the authentic spiritual goals of traditional Yoga by virtue of the fact that they are attempting to create an alternative Yoga, which clearly has a spiritual orientation, although theirs is in the context of a specific religion, unlike traditional Yoga.

The continued efforts of the Christian clergy opposed to traditional Yoga, as well as both the advocates and opponents of "Christian Yoga" will bring many fruits for the Yogis and mystics within all of the religions active in America. Their efforts will continue to make it evermore clear that Yoga truly has to do with mystical, spiritual realization, something for which many people have a persistent yearning and cannot find in their institutional religions, "Christian Yoga" classes, or modern so-called Yoga studios. Though not their intent, their convictions will continue to lead many sincere seekers of direct experience to the authentic, spiritual methods of traditional Yoga.


Yoga and Institutional Religion

Mysticism, Yoga, and Religion

Is Yoga a Religion?

Modern Yoga and Traditional Yoga

Yoga and Christianity

Philosophy, Not Religion

Monday, January 22, 2007

Mindfulness and Concentration in Yoga Meditation


Swami Jnaneshvara

Mindfulness OR Concentration

It is very common for teachers of meditation to describe one of two
general types of meditation, and to recommend one as being superior
to the other:

CONCENTRATION: In this approach, one intentionally focuses the
attention on only one object, such as breath, mantra, a chakra
center, or an internally visualized image.

MINDFULNESS: In this approach, one does not focus the mind on one
object, but rather observes the whole range of passing thoughts,
emotions, sensations, or images.

Students of meditation often find themselves confused by having to
decide which is best, having to practice only one or the other of
mindfulness or concentration. To cause further confusion, mindfulness
is often described as coming from one religion or tradition, while
concentration from another religion or tradition.

Mindfulness AND Concentration

To the sages of the Himalayas, both methods are used in Yoga
meditation. In fact, they are not seen as different choices at all.
Mindfulness and concentration are companions in the same one process
that leads inward to the center of consciousness.

If one stays only in the shallow, beginning levels of meditation,
then choosing between one or the other can seem to make sense. But if
you go deeper in meditation, you will find that both processes are

If one practices only mindfulness, the mind is trained to always have
this surface level activity present. Having this activity constantly
present may be seen as normal, and the attention simply does not go
beyond the mind-field. Attention can "back off" from experiencing
deeper meditation and samadhi so as to remain in the fields of
sensation and thoughts.

If one practices only concentration or one-pointedness, the mind is
trained to not experience this activity of thoughts, sensations,
emotions, and images. The activity is seen as something to be
avoided, and the attention may not even be open to the existence of
these experiences. Attention can "back off" from the deeper aspects
of the mind field, and thus prevent deeper meditation and samadhi.

By practicing both mindfulness and concentration, one is able to
experience the vast impressions, learning the vital skill of non-
attachment, while also using concentration to focus the mind in such
a way as to be able to transcend the whole of the mind field, where
there is only stillness and silence, beyond all of the impressions.
Finally, one can come to experience the center of consciousness, the
Absolute reality.

To the sages of the Himalayas, mindfulness can be emphasized at one
time, concentration emphasized at another, and the two can work

When exploring the mind, mindfulness may be emphasized, while
remaining focused. Then, if a particular thought pattern or samskara
is to be examined so as to weaken its power over the mind,
concentration is the tool with which this examination is done. This
allows an increase in vairagya, non-attachment.

When settling the mind, trying to pierce the layers of our being,
including senses, body, and breath, concentration carries the
attention inward through the layers.

When attention moves into that next deeper level of our being, then
concentration and mindfulness once again work together to explore
that layer, so as to once again move beyond, or deeper.

Integrating the Stages of Practice

In the Yoga meditation of the Himalayan tradition, one systematically
works with senses, body, breath, the various levels of mind, and then
goes beyond, to the center of consciousness. The qualities of
mindfulness and concentration dance together in this journey.

When dealing with the senses and body, there is emphasis on exploring
and examining, being open to all of the thoughts, emotions, and
sensations. One systematically moves attention through the parts and
aspects of the body, fully experiencing the sensory impressions. This
is quite similar to what is sometimes recommended by those who
exclusively teach mindfulness meditation.

When dealing with the breath, there comes a stage wherein one
experiences the energy or prana level alone. This is beyond, or
deeper than the mechanical or gross breath, and does not involve the
thought process of passing images. It involves solely concentrating
on that level of our being. There is definitely a mindfulness of the
play of energy within that level, and it is done in a concentrated,
non-attached way.

When attention goes further inward, there is the mind field itself.
In this stage of practice, the senses have been withdrawn, and there
is no longer any sensory awareness of the body, nor of the physical.
One is now fully in the level of mind itself. Here is still another
form of mindfulness, exclusive of bodily sensation, and once again,
concentration is its companion.

Finally, one comes near the end of the mind and all of its associated
thoughts, emotions, sensations, and impressions. Concentration is
essential at this stage. As Patanjali notes in the Yoga Sutras
(4.31), there is then little to know as the experiences have been
resolved into their causes.

Three Skills go Together

By working with both mindfulness and concentration, it is easy to see
three skills in which the mind is trained, and how these go together:

FOCUS: The mind is trained to be able to pay attention, so as to not
be drawn here and there, whether due to the spontaneous rising of
impressions in meditation, or due to external stimuli.

EXPANSION: The ability to focus is accompanied by a willingness to
expand the conscious field through that which is normally
unconscious, including the center of consciousness.

NON-ATTACHMENT: The ability to remain undisturbed, unaffected and
uninvolved with the thoughts and impressions of the mind is the key
ingredient that must go along with focus and expansion.

Yoga Meditation is Already a Whole Science

While speaking here of integrating the practices of mindfulness and
concentration, it is useful to note that, in a sense, integrating is
not quite the right word.

The science of Yoga meditation as taught by the Himalayan sages is
already a whole, complete science that has been torn into smaller
pieces over time. Individual parts have been cut out from the whole,
given separate names, and then taught as unique systems of meditation.

Using mindfulness and concentration is not really a process of gluing
together two systems. Because of various teaching lineages pulling
them apart and creating the appearance of separateness, it can now
seem that we are integrating two systems. It is only an appearance.
Mindfulness and concentration have both been part of the same, one
process of meditation for a very long time.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Yoga and Institutional Religion

Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
Recorded January 4, 2006
3 minutes, 26 seconds

Click here to listen to the audio Podcast:

Yoga is in religion, but religion is not in Yoga. The principles of Yoga are (in alphabetical order) in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and most of the other religions. However, unlike religions, Yoga itself has no deity, worship services, rituals, sacred icons, creed, confession, clergy, institutions, congregation, membership procedure, or system of temples or churches. The word "Yoga" means "union" referring to the direct experience of the wholeness of ourselves at all levels. While the word "Yoga" comes from traditional Sanskrit language, that union is a universal process. The inner calling for that wholeness has also been called the "mystic" longing.

The yogis and mystics seek the esoteric end of the polarity of esoteric-exoteric. However, since the world of religions is dominated by the exoteric orthodoxy, the mystic and yogi is rarely understood. One who has been to the top of the spiritual mountain in direct experience may say, when asked what was discovered, "Yahweh; Ehyeh," or "I am that I am." He or she may say, "The father and I are one." She or he may say, "Sohum" which is Sanskrit for "I am that." He or she may go as far as to say, "I am God," in the spirit that the wave and the ocean are one and the same. That direct experience aligns with the immanent end of the immanent-transcendent polarity, but not being understood, comes across as a threat to the religionists. As if that is not enough of a threat, the mystics and yogis seek to trace their way back to the original material cause, rather than myopically focus on a projected efficient cause.

Because of their direct experience of the esoteric, immanent, and material causes--rather than mere belief--the mystics and yogis who are unwilling to renounce that direct experience and pledge loyalty to the orthodox religious institutions and their leaders have been beaten, hung, shot, crucified, beheaded, burned at the stake, and otherwise murdered. They have been outright banished or coerced to leave the cities and communities of the fear-filled religionists so as to live alone in the deserts, forests, or high mountains. Modern religions, cultures, and even religion classes insist on categorizing and classifying the mystics and yogis, attempting to force them into rigid boxes of institutional religious identity.

It remains as true today as always, that the mystics and yogis prefer to remain invisible, outside of the mainstream view, as they live far outside the center of the bell curve called "most people." Yet, the number of people with this level of deep longing for direct experience rather than mere blind faith is so large that there is an increasing need for higher visibility of the authentic mystics and yogis. As long as humanity is here, there will continue to be mystics and yogis longing for, seeking, and attaining the direct experience of the highest truth, self, reality, infinity, god, or whatever term one wants to use for that. The realized yogis and mystics drift here and there in our world so as to serve those few.


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

Reason for the Eight Rungs of Yoga

Swami Jnaneshvara

The Eight Rungs of Yoga are well known, and are (including Yoga Sutra

1) Yama: codes of restraint, abstinences (2.30, 2.31)
2) Niyama: observances, self-training (2.32)
3) Asana: meditation posture (2.46-2.48)
4) Pranayama: expansion of breath and prana (2.49-2.53)
5) Pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses (2.54-2.55)
6) Dharana: concentration (3.1)
7) Dhyana: meditation (3.2)
8) Samadhi: deep absorption (3.3)
Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are together known as Samyama, which is described in Sutras 3.4-3.6:


However, WHAT IS THE REASON for doing those Eight Rungs? This is often overlooked. The Eight Rungs are presented in the 29th Sutra of Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras. The reason for doing them is presented in the three sutras just before that. According to Patanjali, codifier of the Yoga Sutras, the reason for the eight rungs is DISCERNMENT or DISCRIMINATION (viveka) so that one may gradually reveal the true self that remains after all of the false identities are set aside. It is an extremely important principle for the Yogi or Yogini to be aware of. All of the work with body, breath, and the more surface levels of mind is done so as to cultivate this subtler tool of enlightenment.

From YOGA SUTRAS 2.26-2.29:

Clear, distinct, unimpaired DISCRIMINATIVE KNOWLEDGE is the means of liberation from this alliance [referring to the alliance of consciousness with thoughts and avidya, ignorance described in previous sutras]. Seven kinds of ultimate insight come to one who has attained this degree of discrimination. Through the practice of the different limbs, or steps to Yoga, whereby impurities are eliminated, there arises an illumination that culminates in DISCRIMINATIVE WISDOM, or enlightenment [VIVKEKA KHYATIH]. The eight rungs, limbs, or steps of Yoga are the codes of self-regulation or restraint (yamas), observances or practices of self-training (niyamas), postures (asana), expansion of breath and prana (pranayama), withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and perfected concentration (samadhi).

MORE INFO from the website on the Reason for the Eight Rungs:

NEWSLETTER on Yoga Sutras:

MAIN PAGE of Yoga Sutras:

INTRODUCTION to Yoga Sutras:

In Your Meditations This New Year

AUDIO Recording:


In your meditations this new year....
May your body be still and comfortable....
May your head, neck and trunk be aligned....
May your breath be smooth, slow, serene, and with no pauses....
May the flow of thoughts in your mind not disturb you....
May your meditations this new year bring you peace, happiness and bliss....

AUDIO Recording:

In loving service,

Swami J

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Transitions: New Years and New Moments in Life and Meditation

Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
Recorded December 30, 2006
1 hour, 9 minutes, 25 seconds

Click here to listen to the audio Podcast:

The transition from one year to the next year happens in an infinitely short moment that is actually non-existent in time. So too, there are transitions in the moments of life and the moments of meditation. Mindfulness of transitions in daily life and during meditation time is extremely useful on the spiritual journey to enlightenment. The recording ends with a 15-minute guided contemplative meditation on Transitions, which begins at 54:42.


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