Attain God through Kirtan

Last night local bay area Kirtan group, Uma Reed & Friends, came to lead evening Satsang. They filled the meditation and yoga hall with the truth and wisdom of God through beautiful storytelling, chanting, and playing of instruments. Swami Sivananda always said that singing Kirtan was the fastest way to God realization. After chanting with the band for two hours the hall vibrated with a brilliant energy of love and light; we sang the names of God and then felt the affects of God’s love through the entire Center. Om Namah Sivaya.

Here is a letter Swami Sivananda wrote, that you can find in his book Sivananda Upanishad

8 August 1941

Beloved Govind,

Kirtan is singing Lord’s name. It is the easiest, surest and safest way for attaining God. Kirtan is nectar. Kirtan is divine food for the soul. Kirtan can make you immortal. Sing the Maha-Mantra, Hare Rame Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.

May you attain God through Kirtan,

“The nearer one approaches the Truth, the happier one becomes. For the essential nature of Truth is positive, Absolute Bliss.”

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Remember the Self

Many times true aspirants have an immediate sense of relief when they meet their teacher, or guru; it is a homecoming you had forgotten you were waiting for. When Swami Vishnu was initiated by his Master, Swami Sivananda, it was as if a light turned on, flooding him with spiritual knowledge he had forgotten through the passage of time. He could finally see his true Self, remembering that he was a yogi.

Swami Sitaramananda, the director at the Sivananda Ashram in Grass Valley, wrote about this kind of experience in her poem entitlted “Initiation” which you can find in her book “Darshan; A Vision of God”.

I went through the ages
and met my soul.
I encountered myself again
a familiar feeling, deep down inside.

My master’s touch
brought me back through the ages
and made me meet myself again
and him, somewhere deep down inside.

I traveled through the ages
in a split second
and got back to this light place
deep down inside.

The dramas, the sufferings
suddenly are understood
as consequences of being lost
somewhere out there outside.

I found myself, an old, old friend,
and cried, cried, tears of relief,
tears of pity, for all this time lost
somewhere out there outside.

My Master’s touch
brought me back through the ages
and made me meet myself again
deep down inside.

Swami Sitaramananda’s poetry books, as well as many other books, can be found in our Boutique here at the SF Center.

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The Body is a Yantra

In Satsang this morning we read a segment from Swami Vishnudevananda’s Upadesa, where he discusses energy within the body and the constant movement from one wavelength to the next. He says our bodies are yantras, which is a figure, a triangle for example, that creates energy, like an engine. We must move this energy up the chakras, the energy centers in the astral body, and the only way to do this is through practice. We cannot move energy just by understanding the concept of moving energy, we must experience it and practice mindfully to get the full benefits through asanas, pranayama, japa, and chanting.

“Everything originates from energy. It is the cause of our physical body. Beauty is nothing but the energy inside. ‘Avon calling’ has nothing to do with it. Vibrations keep changing because it is impossible not to change. The energy keeps moving from one wavelength to another. In the body this is called ‘old age’. Sometimes we accelerate this wavelength and old age takes place very fast. For example, if I crush this flower in my hand it will decay in a few seconds. Your body’s wavelength can change slowly or rapidly. When you do pranayama and asanas, bandhas and mudras or meditate on a chakra you are changing your wavelength, moving the energy to a higher chakra, a higher level. You want to bring your energy to the highest centre, OM.
There is a purpose to all this. You can’t just learn it intellectually: you ahve to experience it, learn it intuitively. Understanding intellectually is good so to that you don’t do it mechanically, like a parrot. Practise consciously, then the energy can be brought up very easily, and you can get the benefits. Your body is like a triangle. It is radiating energy. Each chakra is oscillating. Everything is symmetrical. Nothing happens without energy. Your body is nothing but the blossom of your inner seed. We do asanas, pranayama, japa, chanting just to stimulate the energy and bring it to a higher level. The whole body is nothing but a yantra.”

Upadesa, along with many other books, can be found in our Boutique here at the SF Center.

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Prana: The Universal Life

The past two mornings our theme for Satsang has been Prana, the vital energy of all life. Prana is the thread between the astral and the physical bodies. Living in a community, we are constantly exposed to others’ Prana, and although we may not see it, we feed off of the energy of others and they feed off of us. Thus, we must learn how to control our Prana. Our energy body is beyond anything physical–it is our true, eternal nature.

Swami Sivananda wrote a beautiful essay on Pranayama, discussing the ways we can recognize Prana and then control it. Here is an excerpt from the essay in Bliss Divine.

“Through Prana the gods live, and also do men and beasts. Prana is verily the life of beings. Therefore it is called the universal life or the life of all.

Prana is the universal principle of energy or force. It is vital force. it is all-pervading. It may be either in a static or a dynamic state. IT is found in all forms from the highest to the lowest, from the ant to the elephant, from the unicellular amoeba to a man, from the elementary form of plant life to the developed form of animal life.

Prana is force on every plane of being, from the highest to the lowest. Whatever moves or works or has life, is but an expression or manifestation of Prana.

It is Prana that shines in your eyes. It is through the power of Prana the ears hear, the eyes see, the skin feels, the intellect do their functions. The smile in a young lady, the melody in the music, the power in the emphatic words of an orator, the charm in the speech of one’s beloved, are all due to Prana. Rivers flow through Prana. The aeroplane moves in the air through Prana. The steam engine works through Prana. Trains and motor cars move through Prana. Radio waves travel through Prana. Prana is electron. Prana is force. Prana is magnetism. Prana is electricity. It is Prana that pumps the blood from the heart into the arteries or blood vessels. It is Prana that does digestion, excretion and secretion.

Prana is expended by thinking, willing, acting, moving, talking, writing, etc. A healthy, strong man has abundance of Prana or nerve-force or vitality.

The Prana is supplied by food, water, air solar energy, etc. The supply of Prana is taken up by the nerve system. The Prana is absorbed by breathing. The excess of Prana is stored in the brain and nerve centres. WHen the seminal energy is sublimated or transformed, it supplies abundance of Prana to the system. It is stored up in the brain in the form of Ojas. Ojas is nothing but Prana.

The Yogin stores an abundance of Prana by regular practice of Pranayama just as the storage battery stores electricity. That Yogin who has stored up a large supply of Prana radiates strength and vitality all around. He is a big powerhouse. Those who come in close contact with him imbibe Prana from him, and get strength, vigour, vitality and exhilaration of spirits. Just as water flows from one vessel to another, Prana actually flows like steady current from a developed Yogin towards weak persons. This can be actually seen by the Yogin who has developed his inner Yogic vision.”

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Emerging from the Forest of Illusion

The cosmology of karma and the reincarnations that result, create a cycle of life after life as the soul appears to be reborn. Continuation on this path toward liberation is a process of learning, overcoming vices, and transcending the fragmented experience of ego. Shankaracharya explains his emergence from the illusory world beautifully.

“Until now, I have been dreaming. In my dream, I wandered through the forest of illusion, from birth to birth, beset by all kinds of troubles and miseries, subject to reincarnation, decay and death. The tiger of ego attacked me cruelly, without ceasing. Now, by your infinite compassion, O Master, you have wakened me from my dream. You have set me free forever.
Salutations to you, O great master. You are one with Brahman. You are one with the shining Light that casts this shadow of a world.”

Quoted from Shankaracharya’s Viveka-Chudamani; Crest-Jewel of Discrimination which you can find in our boutique, as well as many other books.

For more about Vedanta:

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Shankaracharya’s Crest Jewel of Discrimination

Since the start of December we have read a section in Shankaracharya’s Crest-Jewel Discrimination each morning in Satsang. Shankara was one of the great sage-philosophers of India, teaching nondualistic philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. Through the path of self-knowledge Shankara clearly teaches how to awaken from ignorance created by the mind, and abide in the peace of our true nature.
“Man’s life of bondage to the world of birth and death has many causes. the root of them all is the ego, the first-begotten child of ignorance.
As long as a man identifies himself with this wicked ego, there can be no possibility of liberation. For liberation is its very opposite.
Once freed from this eclipsing demon of an ego, man regains his true nature, just as the moon shines forth when freed from the darkness of an eclipse. He become pure, infinte, eternally blissful and self-luminous.
When a man’s mind is overpowered by extreme ignorance, it creates the sense of ego by identifying itself with the coverings. When the ego is completely destroyed, the mind is cleared of the obstacles which obstruct its knowledge of oneness with Brahman.
The ego is a strong and deadly serpent, and the gunas are its three angry hoods. It lies coiled around the treasure of the bliss of Brahman, which it guards for its own use. The wise man, inspired by the holy scriptures, cuts off the three hoods with the sword of knowledge, and utterly destroys that serpent. Thus he enjoys the treasure of supreme bliss.
There is no hope of a man’s recovery, as long as any trace of poison remains in his body. Similarly, the spiritual seeker cannot attain liberation as long as any trace of the ego remains within him.
Utterly destroy the ego. Control the many waves of distraction which it raises in the mind. Discern the reality and realize “I am That”.”

You can find Crest-Jewel of Discrimination on sale in our boutique along with many other books.

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“Worry is like a rocking chair”

In a time where the global human family and each individual is being asked to hold the dynamic changes in society, politics, and the environment our daily task can be daunting. This morning, here at the Center, we revisited the topic of fearlessness and how our Sadhana (spiritual practice) gives us the tools and clarity to face fear and anxiety with love and surrender.

Our Spiritual Director Swami Padmapadananda stated it best with a smile when he mused, “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but won’t get you anywhere.”

The now out of print, precious book Daily Readings of Swami Sivananda, that gives a message written by Swami Sivananda for everyday of the year, blessed us with these wise words. We hope you find inspiration and courage in every syllable.

“Fear is a great human curse. It is your worst enemy. Fear assumes many forms and blights many lives. But a calm mind brings courage. Then you will face the trials and difficulties of the spiritual path without fear, Fearlessness is a divine quality. What is fear? It is an imaginary zero; it is maya’s deception. It is a mental delusion. It is a negative modification that arises in the mind-lake when one forgets his real, divine nature. It is a whirlpool that emanates from the citta (mind) when one has lost his power of vicara (enquiry) and discrimination. It is the dark wave that proceeds from the ocean of antahkarana (mind) when one has intense attachment to the body.

Friends, there is nothing to fear really. Fear is due to acceptance of suggestion. Victory over fear really means victory over the thing that we fear. We attract to ourselves the very things we are afraid of. That is the universal law of nature. You need not be afraid of anything else in this world save fear itself.

Auto-suggestion helps a lot in removing fear. Assert the truth of being. Assert, “Nothing in the three worlds can make me afraid. I am absolutely fearless. My will is strong and irresistible.” Make friends with the threatened experience, or the things you do not like. The raja yoga method is to repeat the formula: ” I am courageous” or “OM courage”. In the morning meditate on the virtue of courage.

The devotee’s method is to pray to God with faith and sincerity and to make perfect self-surrender: “O God, make me fearless. Grant me the virtue of courage. O Mother take thy son in thy lap. Thou art fear; thou art courage. Let me see thee alone in all these forms”. Feel the invisible helping hand of the ishta devata (your own deity). Have strong faith. Real strength lies in fearlessness. Remove fear of all sorts.

The vedantic method is to enquire: “Who am I?” Identify yourself with the inner self. Assert: “I am the embodiment of courage – I am immortal atman – I am not this perishable body. Who is to fear whom when all this is the self?” This will destroy fear to its very root. How peaceful and strong are they who have victory over fear. May we all shine in divine glory, radiating courage all around. May the divine splendour, the brahmic aura shine in all faces and remove the darkness of fear, ignorance and terror. May we all attain that state of absolute fearlessness – brahmi sthiti (the state of Brahman). May we become one with the fearless Brahman.”

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