Wednesday, December 17, 2008
DESCRIPTION (from the site)
One of the greatest gifts of Swami Rama to humanity was bringing the depths of the wisdom of the ancient sages of Yoga meditation, Vedanta, and Tantra to the people in highly accessible ways. His style of writing is extremely clear and practical, speaking from the highest perspective of a Himalayan master. The writings on this website are a small sample of that wisdom.
Although Swami Rama was most known for guiding people on the path to the highest spiritual realizations, his finest worldly accomplishment was founding the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust near Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Dehradun, India. This includes a 750-bed hospital, a 400-student medical college, a 300-student nursing school, the major cancer center in the region, and a rural development program serving over 1000 villages in the region, including the high Himalayas areas of the sages near the source of the River Ganges. HIHT is also the home of Swami Rama Center, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting the teachings of Swami Rama. Swami Rama also founded Sadhana Mandir Ashram, which is located nearby in Rishikesh.
Swami Rama was born in the Himalayas, lived a life of service to humanity, and left the body on November 13, 1996 at his residence on the grounds of the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust.
QUOTES FROM ARTICLES (from the home page)
The following quotes of Swami Rama are excerpts from the articles linked at the left.
You are the Architect: 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.(more)
Enlightenment and Freedom: People continue to build shrines, chapels, churches, and temples. You don't have to do this, just realize that you are a living shrine. The day you have attained the knowledge that the Lord lives within you, you will be in samadhi. All questions will be answered, all problems will be resolved. (more)
Knowing Yourself: The aim of life is Self-realization. The saying, "Know thyself," was written on the temple of the oracle at Delphi in ancient Greece. This is where East and West meet. Both East and West agree on this goal, though they might hold different ways of attaining it. The one important part of life is ignored by the educational systems at home, in society, and in the colleges and universities: "Know thyself." You need to understand yourself on all levels. You don't need much external information; you already have true knowledge within. You need to learn how to apply the knowledge that you have. (more)
Arise, Attain, and Serve: Today's society is waiting for selfless, spiritually enlightened, well-balanced leaders to guide them in how to live happily here and hereafter. Such leaders or reformers will not come from outside our society. They have to be born, raised, and trained right in our own society. We are the ones to become our own guides, our own leaders, and we are the ones to enlighten our own lives. Get up, my friends, arise: attain knowledge, and dedicate your life to the service of your fellow beings. (more)
Sushumna: According to the yogic scriptures, there are 72,000 nadis, or energy channels. Among them, ida, pingala, and sushumna are the most important. As long as the mind is outward, only ida and pingala remain active. But when the mind is calm and tranquil, sushumna, the central channel, is awakened. The joy derived from the mind traveling through the sushumna channel is unique; it cannot be compared with any sensory pleasure. Because of that inner joy, the mind loses its taste for worldly pleasures. Sushumna application is the most important factor in spiritual practice. The moment sushumna is awakened, the mind longs to enter the inner world. When the flow of ida and pingala is di¬rected toward sushumna, and distractions are thereby removed, meditation flows by itself. (more)
Keys to Successful Living: Everyone wants to be successful in life, but where are the keys to success? Do we have to go out and search for those keys, or do we have those potentials already within ourselves? When we begin to examine life, we can see that it is divided into two aspects -- life within and life without; internal life and external life -- and we can see that these aspects are of equal importance. Even if we have renounced the world, gone far away from civilization, and live in the wilderness doing nothing but meditation, we cannot ignore external life. We still have to see that we eat, do our ablutions, and perform our practices on time. So life in the external world is as important as life in the internal world. Even one who has renounced the world has to understand the word "relationship" properly, because life itself is actually relationship. (more)
Internal Dialogue: Developing internal dialogue is a very important step, but one that few students understand. To succeed in meditation you have to develop this important step. You do not begin with meditation itself. First you learn to set a regular meditation time, and then to have a dialogue with yourself. In this process you are coming in contact with your inner, internal states. You are learning about the subtle aspects of your mind, your own conscience, and at the same time you are training yourself. (more)
Mantra and Silence: Imagine that you are standing on the bank of a river and you hear the current as it flows. If you follow the river upstream, you will come to its origin. There, you will find that there is no sound. In the same way, a mantra leads the mind to the silence within. That state is called "soundless sound." The seven sounds, or mantras, of the chakras, if magnified, create a form. Each mantra will make a different form. But magnifying sound in the external world is not going to help you. You have to go to the source within, from which that sound comes. This form gives you a knowledge of the sound, and the sound gives you a knowledge of the silence from which all sounds come. (more)
Guru and Divine Grace: Guru is not the goal. Anyone who establishes himself as a guru to be worshipped, is not a guru. Christ, Buddha, and other great persons did not set up any such example. Guru is like a boat for crossing the river. It is important to have a good boat and it is very dangerous to have a boat that is leaking. The boat brings you across the river. When the river is crossed the boat is no longer necessary. You don't hang onto the boat after completing the journey, and you certainly don't worship the boat. (more)
Self Transformation: For a genuine and everlasting transformation, one must practice a systematic method of self-discipline and self-training. Mere philosophy and intellectual knowledge cannot stand in time of need, if one does not know how to use the essentials of that philosophy in one's daily life. Applying theoretical knowledge and living with it in daily life is called practice. Practice requires discipline. Discipline should not be rigidly imposed, but students should learn to commit themselves and accept discipline as essential for self-growth. Imposing rigidity and following it is not helpful at all. (more)
TRATAKA GAZING WITH SOHAM MANTRA:
YOGA AND TANTRA MEDITATION
By Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
VIDEO is at YouTube:
Trataka is gazing, and is a traditional meditation practice of Yoga
SoHum (or SoHam) is a Universal Mantra, as it relates to the breath,
and everybody breaths.
SoHum is a Sanskrit word that means
"I am that," or "I am that I am."
Inhale with the sound "So,"
And Exhale with the sound "Hum."
Allow the sounds to silently repeat in your mind,
without speaking them aloud.
There are a total of 40 SoHum and breath repetitions
The speed of one repetition is 9 seconds per breath,
which is 6 2/3 breaths per minute.
This rate is ideal for relaxing
the autonomic nervous system, and also
preparing for deep meditation.
Breathe with your diaphragm, while gazing at the center, silently
remembering "So" with inhalation and "Hum" with exhalation.
Following is a link to a website called Opposing Views on the question
"Is Yoga a Religion?" Rabbi Sigal Brier says "Yes" and Swami
Jnaneshvara Bharati says "No." Read the arguments for yourself. If you
wish, you can even cast your vote for "Yes" or "No."
ADDENDUM TO THE YOGA NIDRA ARTICLE ON SWAMIJ.COM
The distortion of the very high practice of Yoga Nidra is so thorough
in the world these days that it seems necessary to make very bright
titles just to have the point noticed.
Throughout this article (and others linked on this page) you will find
explanations that there are THREE levels of consciousness: Waking,
Dreaming, and Deep Sleep (plus the "fourth" which is the transcendent
state known as Turiya). Yoga Nidra is conscious DEEP SLEEP. Deep Sleep
is NOT conscious Dreaming. It is NOT the transition between Waking and
Dreaming. Those are states to explore, but they are NOT Deep Sleep; if
it did have dreams, that would be called Dreaming, and would NOT be
called Deep Sleep.
It is utterly obvious that Deep Sleep does NOT have Dreams to explore.
It should be self-evident that Dreaming and Not-Dreaming (i.e., Deep
Sleep) are two different things. However, books, articles, and CDs
keep telling people that Yoga Nidra is a state of Dreaming, or
transitioning into Dreaming from Waking. This is just not true.
Throughout the ancient writings of the yogis, sages, and rishis there
are explanations of these three states of consciousness. Please don't
just take my word for it. Read the ancient writings, including Vedas,
Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and others. You will find these states
talked about over and over, and over again.
Many people are now practicing all sorts of guided imageries in the
name of Yoga Nidra so that they can make money, have better sex, or
manipulate other people. There are CDs out which say Yoga Nidra is for
"this or that" named disease or other specific desire-based purpose.
Yoga Nidra has been made to sound like "The Law of Attraction,"
whereby you fulfill your desires through meditative techniques.
Yoga Nidra was taught by the ancient sages for the purpose of
exploring the deep impressions or samskaras, which drive our actions
or karma. They taught this so that sincere seekers can purify the
deeper aspect of the mind-field, which is accessed in the formless
state of conscious Deep Sleep. If I try to explain the whole process
here in this paragraph, I would have to condense the whole article
here, which can't be done. You must do this exploration yourself. Read
the article. Read the other articles. Read the texts mentioned above.
I'm not writing this here just to complain about other people. The
fact is, that Yoga Nidra is a profoundly useful and deep practice for
enlightenment at this highest level of that word (enlightenment). The
term "Yoga Nidra" has become so watered-down, so distorted that
sincere seekers are not likely to see the extremely high value of
authentic Yoga Nidra. If you read this, research this yourself, and
then do the practices, you'll discover for yourself the very high
value of authentic, traditional Yoga Nidra.
I know that all of this can sound like a "sales pitch." Well, we're
stuck with that. I'm writing this here so that possibly some few
sincere people will move forward with authentic Yoga Nidra. There are
a small handful of people out there who can talk to you about this,
and guide you. I'm not going to recommend any specific names of
people, however. Just explore sincerely; you'll find your way to the
real thing of Yoga Nidra.
While you are here, reading this part of the article, please read
carefully the rest of the article, as well as some of the other
articles about these three levels of consciousness (see levels
articles in the link), particularly the third level, which is the
domain of Deep Sleep. I know it can be a difficult read, but there's
great value in understanding these levels of consciousness and how
Yoga Nidra is used as a tool for higher experience.
Yoga Nidra article:
In loving service,
translated from English into Spanish as a most generous offering of
selfless service to others by Zulema Higueras from Chile. The articles
range in size from 1 page to 49 pages. The articles are all in pdf
format and can be downloaded from this page:
Please freely circulate these links to other readers of Spanish who
may enjoy and benefit from the articles. More translations are to come.
In loving service and with gratitude to Zulema,
Indic Contribution Towards
Understanding the Word Religion
Below is the Summary section of a paper entitled "An Indic Contribution Towards an Understanding of the Word `Religion' and the Concept of Religious Freedom," by Dr. Arvind Sharma of McGill University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada). The paper was presented for the Global Renaissance Conference Series in July 2002 in New York.
Dr. Sharma does a very good job of explaining the different ways in which the word "religion" is used. If you are a practitioner of Yoga or a teacher of any form of Yoga, you may find his explanations extremely insightful. If you have ever asked, or been asked the question, "Is Yoga a religion?" you will find his paper most useful, although he is not directly discussing the question of Yoga itself.
The reason I have copied below only the Summary of his paper (rather than the whole paper) is for brevity, so you can get an overview of the topic. The whole paper is well worth reading in its entirety. As I was exploring web links for Dr. Sharma's biography (so that I could share it here), I ran into his personal blog, which also has a very succinct comment about this topic; I have included that below as well.
Here is the link to the entire 36-page paper:
The article is linked from this page:
Dr. Arvind Sharma's personal website:
AN INDIC CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORD "RELIGION" AND THE CONCEPT OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
And Indic Contribution Towards
an Understanding of the Word "Religion"
and the Concept of Religious Freedom
The word religion is now part of global discourse specially as it is carried out through the medium of English. The word, however, is Western in origin which raises the question: Does a Western word, when used in global discourse, reflect the global religious reality or does it in the process of reflecting it, also distort it? It is contended in the paper that such in fact is the case—that when the word is used to represent the religions of Indian origin, the religions of the Far East and the indigenous religions—it in fact distorts reality. The basis for making such a claim is the following.
The word "religion" came into secular use in the nineteenth century and has since been freely used in the public sphere as if it were a neutral word, which could be impartially applied to all the religions of the world. However, the word embodies a certain concept of what religion is and this concept is rooted in its Christian background. In such a context the concept of religion implies that a religion is something (1) conclusive; (2) exclusionary and (3) separative. In other words, a religion, in order to qualify as such must hold that it has the final truth (conclusive); that in order to obtain it one must belong to it alone (exclusionary) and that in order to do so one must separate oneself from any other, specially prior, affiliation (separative). It is also separative in another sense: that religion constitutes a part of life, separate from the rest of it—a sense particularly pronounced in Christianity.
When this word was adopted in secular discourse these orientations of the word were retained, with some modifications. The claim to possessing the final truth by Christianity was extended to each religion on its own, this process giving rise to the expression "truth claim." The idea that the membership of a religion excluded that of any other was retained, while the third constituent of the concept, that of separation (between the sacred and the profane or the secular and the religious) came to characterise one religion's separateness from another more than anything else.
All the three orientations of the word religion as conclusive, as exclusionary and as separative are in effect exclusivist in nature, a word to be carefully distinguished from the word exclusionary which has been used above in the sense of indicating the fact that the formal membership one one religion must exclude such membership of another. The conclusive element is exclusivist in the sense that only the religion's own truth-claim is considered final, thereby excluding such claims of other religions; the exclusionary element is obviously exclusivistic and the claim that religions must be treated as separate entities by themselves is also obviously exclusivistic.
Such an exclusivistic orientation however does not characterise the Indic religious tradition or what we might also call the dharmic tradition. The word Indic in this context needs to be carefully distinguished from the word Indian. All religions found to exist in India may be called Indian religions. Those religions among these which are Indian in origin in their self-perception, namely, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism alone may be called Indic.
This Indic religious tradition tends to be non-exclusivistic. Each component of it—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism—tends to view one's membership of it as a sufficient but not a necessary condition for liberation. This attitude finds further expression in the fact that these traditions tend to be non-proselytizing even when they become missionary.
Such a non-exclusivistic attitude in terms of religion is not confined to Indic religions but is shared by religions of the Far East. In pre-Communist China it was common for people to view themselves as both Confucian and Taoist in terms of religious commitment. The example of present-day Japan is also relevant here. According to the 1985 census, 95% of the Japanese population declared itself as followers of Shinto. Seventy-six per cent of the same population, however, also simultaneously declared itself to be Buddhist. The indigenous religions of the world—the American-Indian, the African and so on—are also non-exclusivistic in their attitude to religion.
The use of the word religion, which carries exclusivistic overtones, in these three contexts—of Indic religions, of the religions of the Far East and of the indigenous religions, distorts their reality, because it means that a word with an exclusivistic orientation is being employed to describe "religious" traditions which are nonexclusivistic.
One might still wonder, even if one accepts this point, as to how consequential a point it is. Is it merely of academic interest or of more than academic interest? I would like to urge that the use of religion when applied as a blanket term to all the religions of the world—both exclusivistic as well as non-exclusivistic in nature— when the word itself has exclusivistic connotations, possesses significant policy implications. For instance, it tilts the concept of religious freedom in human rights discourse in favour of freedom to proselytize which is more in keeping with an exclusivistic rather than a non-exclusivistic concept of religion, thereby depriving the non-exclusivistic religions of their religious freedom—which in their case would consist of not being made the object of proselytization. The formal recognition of such a right on their part would then constitute an Indic contribution toward a truly global understanding of the [word] religion.
Dr. Sharma wrote an additional comment on his blog on December 1, 2008; it is a clear, succinct summary.
8.) Indic and Western Concepts of Religion
December 1, 2008 by arvindsharma
During the period of the heavy interaction between India and the West during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the West did not succeed in converting Indians to Christianity on an appreciable scale. This fact has obscured what it did achieve—it converted its intelligentsia not to Christianity but to the Christian concept of religion—not to the West's religion but to the West's concept of religion. This concept of religion was employed by this intelligentsia both during the period of British Raj and after, to describe the Indian "religious" reality, which does not quite conform to it. Hence its use to describe this reality, in the process of reflecting it, also reshaped it. According to this Western concept of religion one can only belong to one religion at a time, while the Indic concept of religion permits multiple religious affiliation. This was doubly unfortunate: It was unfortunate for the West failed to benefit by not taking the Indic concept of religion into account in its conceptualization of religion, a failure apparent in human rights documents available in the West, abetting the charge that human rights discourse is Western, and it was unfortunate for India: By forcing Indian religious reality into a Western conceptual constraints it thereby distorted it and exported to India the problems the Western concept of religion had created in the West.
The reformulation of intellectual discourse in a way in which it takes the Indic concept of religion as seriously as the Western might help solve both the problems.