All are one Brahman, one consciousness. Let all names and forms be dissolved

It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. The heat of the sun had been mitigated by the cool breezes. Mats were spread on the roof-garden. Sat-Sangees were busy preparing the summer drink, almonds crushed and melon and cardamom seeds dissolved in cold water. Everything was ready. Bil (fruit) cooled in ice was added to …

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We must stop all personal criticism of those we know or those whom we do not know.

The real Self of all is the ever-attained ideal. Those who try to attain the ideal, they do not know the truth. The ever-attained ideal, which never falls from His great glory, is the Self of man. “The same to those who praise him and also to those who abuse him, silent, unless necessary no …

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The student must realize that the teacher has faith in him, the student himself

The cherry tree blossoms for three weeks. For the remaining forty-nine, nothing shows above the ground, but the roots are going deeper and deeper. The phrase in the Chinese Book of Change is: ‘The thunder is buried in the earth The vitality is in the roots.’ That long time of apparent inertia, and the short …

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Meditation on OM

Swami Rama Tirtha made OM his main method for realization. He said, ‘For one moment throw overboard all your attachments and anxieties, and chant OM. You will find yourself transformed into light.’ The practice of the eighth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita presents mainly meditations on the Lord felt as within the body. First the …

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Reasons for quoting a verse in Sanskrit first, and then giving the English translation.

When I first went to Dr Shastri’s lectures on Vedanta and Yoga, one of the things that irritated me, as it puzzled me, was his habit of quoting a verse in Sanskrit first, and then giving the English translation. He would say, for instance: “The Gita says, in Chapter 13 Verse 30, Prakrityaiva ca karmani…..” …

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It is not a crime to be spiritually only two or three years old. But we are expected to grow up

A teenage disciple asked the advice of a senior in the Yoga group he had joined. ‘My parents don’t understand me at all – we are always having rows. Why shouldn’t I have pictures of nudes on the walls of my room, like my friends do? I wanted to put one up in the hall …

Read moreIt is not a crime to be spiritually only two or three years old. But we are expected to grow up

Extracts from S’ankara on the Yoga Sutras

In these extracts the translator proposes to give some idea of the original material which this sub-commentary provides for the study of the Yoga Sutras. Purely technical discussions are not included. It is intended that the meaning should be lucid and clear to the general reader. General information about the book  The Parallel with Medical …

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The basis of morality in yoga is different from that of humanism

The basis of morality in yoga is different from that of humanism. It cannot be derived from reasoning, nor from the development of universal fellow-feeling or compassion. Dr. Shastri made a comment on the Buddhist Jataka stories, where for instance a bodhisattva walking along a cliff sees at the bottom a starving tigress with her …

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Swami Rama Tirtha made a list of samadhi-meditations on Knowledge

 Swami Rama Tirtha on Samadhi Swami Rama Tirtha made a list of samadhi-meditations on Knowledge. In some of these there may still be a shadowy knowing process, and known object, but they are no longer real. He calls them vikalpa, which means a theoretical and illusory construct. Shankara uses a pair of terms: `with-vikalpa’ (sa-vikalpa) …

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After a successful Advaita Vedanta experience the world is no longer what it was

Advaita – The World As Unreal Though there are some resemblances, when the yogi comes out of Patanjali meditation, the world is as real as it was before. After a successful Advaita Vedanta experience, however, described above, the world is no longer what it was. Knowledge has arisen and though there is a world, it …

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In Patanjali, Samadhi is based on the experienced fact of the reality of the world

Patanjali – The World Is Real There are different forms of samadhi. Patanjali lists nine and they are all based on the experienced fact of the reality of the world and its causes and effects. So, when the state of meditation, with its exaltation and freedom ends, the meditator comes back to a real world. …

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Unexamined ideas and habits, will often raise objections to Yoga practice

Objections Swami Mangalnath’s advice is to bring the mind to serenity at the heart centre for 2 hours a day. The mind will probably object: “But I’ll have to cut my television time!” Sometimes beginners feel that even an hour’s meditation a day is wasted. There may be a temporary exaltation but it is soon …

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Daily practice is the key to changing the sanskara-s at the root of the mind

Practice Programme You have to set up your own discipline, and daily practice is the key to changing the sanskara-s at the root of the mind. Learn to meditate on the desired characteristics as already achieved. Characteristics of advantage in purely worldly achievements could also be cultivated, but such achievements are fundamentally illusory, and often …

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Do not think: “I must not be impatient”, but to meditate on patience as achieved

Yoga Methods The method in yoga is not to think: “I must not be impatient”, but to meditate on patience as achieved. Meditate in wide concepts: on patience, calm, and serenity. With each meditation, sanskara-s are being laid down. For a time we see no improvement. But we must try to understand the dynamics of …

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In the West we often think the basic nature is there and cannot be changed

 Changing the nature There is quite some difference between the popularly held views in the East and in the West on this question. In the West we often think that it is impossible; the basic nature is there and cannot be changed. All one can do is to try to develop means of adapting to …

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Practice makes perfect, but one has to be a perfect practiser, or at any rate on the right lines

Practice makes Perfect  Practice makes perfect, but one has to be a perfect practiser, or at any rate on the right lines. People take up this type of practice for a time; they struggle with it for a bit and then give up. And this is because the method is not understood. In Yogic psychology, …

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Before we have got any definite results, we are not sure what we are trying for

 Long Waves And Short Waves The same thing happens when we take up anything new which requires practice. Before we have got any definite results, we are not sure what we are trying for, and we find that the mind wanders off occasionally. Why am I doing this? Suppose I am not suited for this? …

Read moreBefore we have got any definite results, we are not sure what we are trying for

The Supreme Self called Paramatman, within each living being, is always in the peace and clarity of samadhi

Concentration and meditation It is often recommended, that before we begin a study the Holy Truth, we should bring the mind to the central line of the body, and one of the ways of doing it is to isolate the point in the centre of the chest: just below where the ribs meet. This is …

Read moreThe Supreme Self called Paramatman, within each living being, is always in the peace and clarity of samadhi

Put yourself vividly in the presence of the spiritual figure you are worshipping and hold yourself there.

Conscious tensions can be relaxed when attention is paid to them. But unconscious tensions are not so easily resolved, because to resolve them is itself attention. Over some fifty years ago there was a record by an American band, in which each line ended with the shouted chorus Relax, Relax, RELAX !!! and this against …

Read morePut yourself vividly in the presence of the spiritual figure you are worshipping and hold yourself there.

Rational thinking cannot easily overturn unconscious attitudes

Freud and Adler and their followers were able to show that in some cases what we regard as rational decisions are in fact expressions of unconscious tendencies. A young man who went to join the Indian civil service found that he cold not sleep because of the howling of pariah dogs near his official residence. …

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They were outwitted through their mpulsive greed for the food.

Hardware, more properly Haridwar, is one of the most sacred places in India. The Ganges has come out of the Himalayas and to bath in it at Haridwar is to wash away sins. James Young, the high ranking British officer who was in charge of the government force which finally defeated and captured the Thag …

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Illumined teachers are animated instruments communicating the cosmic purpose

If the mind of an aged saint to deteriorates, disciples and other devotees may be distressed. They cannot help feeling that the Buddha-light or the Yoga-jnana is weakening. Their convictions may even be shaken. They have to realise that there the basic enlightenment is quite distinct from it’s manifestation through instruments. Imperfections or deterioration in …

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In Taoist thought there are warnings against trying to teach the unteachable

There are certain rules for the transmission of the Holy Truth. One set of traditions is concerned with the passing on from teacher to pupil in a face-to-face relation, and another set is concerned with what might be called broadcasting it to groups. The face-to-face relationship was in India called Upanishad, which means literally “sitting …

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Categories Zen

After a year practising on one line isn’t there a danger of getting stale?

Question: After a year practising on one line isn’t there a danger of getting stale? Surely it’s best to make a change in the practice and try on a different line so the mind gets some fresh stimulation. Answer: There was a training centre in mediaeval China near the top of a mountain that had …

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Categories Q&A

Why do I have to study Sanskrit words and Indian ideas?

Question: Why do I have to study Sanskrit words and Indian ideas in order to practice the traditional yoga? It claims to be an experimental science and method and experiments should not depend on any particular language. Answer: One answer is to look at the example of Western instrumental music. Music is something direct, which …

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Categories Q&A

A vulgar assumption is that if a man does not have money it is because he cannot get it

Question: Buddhism, and especially Zen Buddhism is against life. If we look at the recent English translation autobiography of the great 17th century Zen Master Hakuin we find that he was not often with other people. Nearly all his serious practice was done alone, on pilgrimages sometimes, but in the main in hermitages. He was …

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Categories Q&A

A life which has been shaped and polished so that it’s true nature begins to appear

A life with a purpose has been compared to making an elaborate wooden piece of furniture, as for instance a cabinet with many shelves and draws. The pieces of wood are given to us in the shape of certain talents and abilities and events which happen to us. We are expected to cut and shape …

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The aged dictator of Spain was dying in his presidential palace

When the aged dictator of Spain was dying in his presidential palace overlooking a central square of Madrid, large numbers of his supporters came in relays to stand in front of the palace and chant their farewells: “Goodbye, Franco. Goodbye!” The sound of the voices could be heard from the sick bed in the palace. …

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Adhyatma Yoga

Adhyatma is a Sanskrit word meaning relating (adhy-) to the self (atma). It is defined by Shankara in his commentary on Gita viii.3 as, Brahman the supreme Self, immortal universal consciousness, seemingly (1) related to each individual body\mind complex (2) manifesting as the Self of the Lord omniscient and omnipotent, and ultimately (3) Brahman-without-attributions, Supreme …

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The third stage of ingratitude is a couplet by the 13th century Persian poet Saadi of Shiraz

It is a pleasant feeling to make a gift to someone who is in need. It is the superior position, generally one doesn’t make oneself too short, and it is depositing a credit for the Last Judgement. It is harder to receive the gift from condescending hands. St Vincent de Paul told his charitable followers: …

Read moreThe third stage of ingratitude is a couplet by the 13th century Persian poet Saadi of Shiraz

Ikkyu was a famous Zen priest and poet , who was sometimes overwhelmed by sexual desire

Ikkyu was a famous Zen priest and poet of the 15th century, who was however on more than one occasion overwhelmed by sexual desire. He finally caught a sexually transmitted disease. When he was dying a knowledgeable friend brought him some of the remedies of the time. However he refused to take them with the …

Read moreIkkyu was a famous Zen priest and poet , who was sometimes overwhelmed by sexual desire

My general rule has been to declare frankly my own self interest and then be prepared to negotiate

“If I were you, I wouldn’t do that.” “I think if you were me you would do that because if you were me you’d do as I’d do and I am going to do that.” “Oh well, I meant that if I were in your shoes, in your situation…” It sounds a fine thing to …

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Dogen was the great patriarch he brought the Soto line of Zen from China to Japan in the 13th centu

Dogen was the great patriarch he brought the Soto line of Zen from China to Japan in the 13th century. He established it on a very firm ethical basis in Japan, and his great work Shobo-genzo (Treasury of the true law) carries enormous prestige even outside the Soto sect. Buddhist teachers of other sects quoted …

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Most spiritual training schools stress the importance of a sangha or community

Most spiritual training schools stress the importance of a sangha or community.  In Buddhism there are the Three Refuges:  I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha.  To many people, the Buddha and Dharma are somewhat abstract supports, and the physical association with a community …

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In the mind when there is no control, two or three obstinate thought-feelings can become locked in a struggle

Before traffic lights were introduced, two or three strong-willed car drivers could get locked in a crossing, because no one would give way. The traffic piled up behind them, and often it was impossible to relieve the tangle by driving on to the pavement. In a busy part of the town, at a busy time, …

Read moreIn the mind when there is no control, two or three obstinate thought-feelings can become locked in a struggle

Panchadasi is a great Vedanta classic of the fourteenth century

Dr shastri’s translation of “ Panchadasi ” makes available to English readers a great Vedanta classic of the fourteenth century. The author, Vidyaranya, was a famous saint and savant of southern India, who successfully rallied the remnants of Hindu resistance against the destroying wave of Mohammedan conquest which had swept over India. Only after successfully …

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Should they do their first training with the sword or with the spear?

A doubt comes up in the mind: ‘Scientists actively refute mysticism and yoga. They have created all these modern marvels – surely they must be right?’ It is met: ‘Some of the greatest of them like Pasteur and Einstein and today Davies, say the weight of evidence is for a cosmic intelligence.’ The doubt subsides, …

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Is not Yoga unnatural? It tries to restrain instincts such as eating and sex

Question:  Is not Yoga unnatural?  It tries to restrain instincts such as eating and sex.  As contrary to human nature,  such enforced control will always be fragile, and in fact fruitless. Answer:  This question comes up again and again in slightly different forms, like the Chinese dragon which appears now as blue, now as red, …

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Categories Q&A

Here is a battle unsought; completely unselfish, for a warrior that is an open door to heaven

Full pacifism is for monks. Lay people practice limited pacifism; they do not seek conflict but they may defend justice as they see it. Krishna says to the warrior- “Here is a battle unsought; completely unselfish, for a warrior that is an open door to heaven.” The limited Ahimsa means that the warrior or the …

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