PRANAYAM: A WAY TO SPIRITUAL END

The word ‘Prana’ in Pranayam means energy of life-that vital energy which we draw into ourselves from the surrounding universe every moment.Since this energy is obtained primarily by breathing,it may be translated as breath in this particular context.But the word ‘Prana’ has much broader reference for all the powers of the body & all functions of the senses & mind are regarded as expression of the force of Prana.

The importance of Prana is also found in Upanishads.The five elements-earth,water,fire,ether ,air together make the human body gifting us these powerful senses.Once these senses made a boastful assertion-“We hold the body together & support it ” where upon Prana,the primal enenergy,supreme over all of them said, “Do not deceive yourselves.It is I alone, dividing myself five-fold to hold this body together & support it.”But they would not believe him.Prana to justify himself made as if he intended to leave the body.But as he rose & appeared to be going,all the rest soon realized that if he went,they would also have to depart with him.And as the Prana seated himself,the rest found their respective places again.

The symbol of Kundalini awakening is like the rise of a serpent

There is a certain real power coiled up in every being.A huge reserve of spiritual energy is situated at the base of Spine known as Kundalini.The object of Pranayam is to arouse Kundalini & there by control the Prana by regular practice of several breathing exercises. When the Kundalini is aroused it is said to travel up through 6 centres of consciousness,reaching the seventh at the center of the brain.As it reaches the higher centers,it produces various degrees of Enlightenment.

Posted in YOGA | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

YOGA & BREATH CONTROL

By the period 500 B.C. man had already climbed the ladder of Evolution to a great extent.Only with his feet & hand-made boats, he had reached to every suitable corner of Earth.
Science was still very far from the picture.Man was still  unable to control the natural forces outside & use them to serve himself & his community.We can not say exactly,but perhaps this was the time when Yoga was born in India.During this period, Indian yogis turned their attention to control the forces of nature within the body.

The yogis were aware of the very fact that soul & body are two different things.Although they are different,but they pretend to be one.The string which ties the soul to the body is Breath.

Breath is not just the exchange of Carbon dioxide & oxygen.For different levels of thought & emotion go through,our breath takes on different patterns.You may be either angry,happy,peaceful or sad.During the change of emotions,our breath goes through subtle change.
The founder of ‘Isha Foundation’ (which works for the care of HIV affected people) Sadhguru Vasudev once said, “Whichever way you breathe,that is the way you think.Whichever way you think,that is the way you breathe.”


Hence (under an expert guidance),breath can be used as a tool to do many things with body & mind.In Patanjali sutra of Yoga,it is stated that Mind can be calmed by expulsion & retention of breath.Modern Science agrees that method of respiration affects the whole organism.

Mental disturbances are accompanied by irregular breathing-rapid,shallow & uncontrolled.There are two causes for activities of Mind-
i)Desire
ii)Respiration
Of these,the destruction of one leads to the destruction of both.This is one of the most important knowledge ancient Indians have given to the world.And even today,it remains a mystery for many of us.

Posted in history, YOGA | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

10 PRINCIPLES OF THE ARYA SAMAJ

Swami Dayanand Saraswati was the founder of Arya Samaj

1.God is the primary source of all true knowledge & of all that can be known through it.

2.God is existent,intelligent & blissful.He is formless,almighty,just,merciful,unborn,infinite,unchallengeable,beginning-less,incomparable the support & lord of all,omniscient,imperishable,immortal,fearless,eternal,holy & the maker of the universe.To him alone the worship is due.

3.The Vedas are the scriptures of true knowledge.It is the duty of all Aryas to read them,hear them & read recite them to others.

4.We should always be ready to accept the truth & give up untruth.

5.All actions should be performed in conformity with Dharma i.e. after due consideration of right & wrong.

6.The primary aim of Arya samaj is to do good for all, i.e. promote their physical,spiritual & social well being.

7.We should treat all people with love,fairness & give due regard for their merit.

8.We should aim at dispelling ignorance & promoting knowledge.

9.One should not only be content with one’s welfare but should look for it in the welfare of others also.

10.One should regard oneself under restriction to follow altruistic rulings of society,while in following rules of individual welfare,all should be free.

Posted in Art of Living, Spirituality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

10 DISCIPLINES TO PRACTICE YOGA

One has to follow a certain set of rules in order to practice Yoga which indirectly helps to progress towards achieving the state of Samadhi or Cosmic Union.The seeker should adhere to these rules strictly.It is not that one can not practice meditation without these but it is essential because these disciplines purifies the seven Chakras or Energy  centers located in 7 different parts of body.When the chakras are not under strain or exhausted of their energies,they can be easily pierced by Kundalini.

1. Avoidance of Sloth:
Sloth is a term used for laziness.It makes a way for delusion of Mind.One must get a minimum 6 hours of sleep & maximum of 8 hours,while avoiding laziness in work throughout a day.

2.Exercise:

After avoiding Sloth,one must consider his duty to keep him/her self physically fit.Walking,stretching exercises & running should be included in daily routine for at least half to one hour either in early morning or early evening.Heavy workouts in gym,sadly may not be of great help.


3.Intake of Nutritional foods:

Stomach is a very sensitive organ.Its care is very important because the second chakra known as wheel of Energy is located here.Well balanced meals of nutritional foods such as Wheat,barley,rice,milk,ghee,butter,green vegetables,honey,dried ginger,pure water are very beneficial to those who practice Yoga.Bitter,sour,saltish,oily,meat,garlic,onion,Junk & other non-vegetarian foods should be avoided.

4.Cleanliness:
This is another important physical aspect which needs to be taken care of.Cleaning of impurities of body by regular bathing along with keeping our surrounding environment clean must be done.

5.Avoid toxic substance:
Cigarettes,alcohol & other hard drugs are to be completely avoided.

6.Sex:
This needs to be understood in proper perspective.Repressed Sex creates problems in human psyche & over-indulgence makes one impotent & frustrated.So a balnce is to be sought.After all new ventures in Sex are surely not going to lead us to higher states of Consciousness.

Up till now,the 6 disciplines were targeted for the purification of body.The last 4 disciplines aims at purification of Mind itself.

7.Mindfulness:


This is to achieve the single pointedness of mind.You’ve to learn to focus your mind on the present moment.

8.Right Thought:
Take effort to stop unwholesome thoughts (greed,anger,resent,hate) from arising & take effort simultaneously to cultivate wholesome thoughts of love,forgiveness,kindness,compassion,gratitude.

9.Seva:Seva‘ is an action  performed willfully without seeking the fruits of action.Any action can be performed in such a way.Unconditional Love put into smallest of action can make it divine.Seva is a powerful tool to purify mind from our conditions which tells us to focus more on results & fruits of the actions performed.In Bhagavad Gita,Krishna tells that Seva is the most pure & highest  form of action.Do seva,then more seva & more seva.


10.Sangh:

Sangh‘ is term for the company of people around you.Good company involves people seeking spiritual values or who have already attained self-realization.Krishna tells that,one simple way to achieve the knowledge of supreme is to hear about him regularly through someone who has right knowledge.

Posted in Art of Living, YOGA | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE & HUMAN IMAGINATION

Humans have been gifted with greatest of all powers-Imagination.It is because of this power that we’ve been able to make such a huge difference to the way of life on Earth.It gives us the ability to co-create & makes us a god-like being.The word ‘Human’ translates to ‘MANAV’ in Hindi which means an Animal with a Mind (or Imagination).

Imagination is not an absolute term.We can not say that imagination is right or wrong.After all, it is just an imagination.The mind is such that it deals only with Ideas.It is not possible for a mind to relate anything other than idea.Therefore, it is not correct to think that mind can actually ponder reality.All that Mind can do is form ideas about reality.Scientists say that whether or not something is true is not a matter of how closely it corresponds to absolute truth but of how consistent it is with our direct experience.This theory is known as ‘Copenhagen Interpretation’.In 1938, Albert Einstein wrote,

“Physical concepts are free creations of Human mind, & are not,however it may seem,uniquely determined by the external world.In our endeavor to understand reality,we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a Closed Watch.He sees the face & the moving hands,even hears its ticking,but he has no way of opening the case.If he is ingenious,he may form a picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes,but he will be never quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations.He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism & he can not even imagine of the meaning of such a comparison.”

It is said that,a Human,at a certain point in his life may attain Enlightenment or God-realization but one can never truly understand this cosmic play.Simply because he himself is a part of the Mystery.

Posted in physics, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

THREE ‘GUNAS’ OR QUALITIES

Three gunas as described in Bhagavad Gita

A human being is always comprised of three basic gunas-Sattva,Rajas & Tamas and it is these qualities which tend to pull the individual in different directions throughout his life.The gunas are sometimes referred to energies,sometimes qualities but it is difficult to find a single English word that can define their whole nature & function.
These gunas pass through phases of equilibrium & phases of imbalance.Nature of their relationship to one another is such that  they are subject to change.


As these gunas go through changes,we pass through many moods during a single course of a day.When sattva dominates,it causes our moments of inspiration,quiet joy & meditative calm.Rajas brings on outbursts of rage & fierce desire.It makes us restless,discontented,but is also responsible for our better phases of constructive activity,energy,enthusiasm & physical courage.Tamas is the mental bog into which we sink when other two gunas cease to prevail.In state of tamas,we exhibit our wors qualitites-sloth,stupidity,obstinacy,helplessness,delusion.


For illustration,let us take an example of a sculptor who decides to make a figure of horse.The idea of this horse-the form he sees in his imagination is inspired by sattva.Then he gets a lump of clay.This clay represents a part of tamas-whose formlessness has to be overcome.Another part of tamas lies in sculptor’s mind itself.He may say “Why should I put the effort? I’m so tired.This is going to be a lot of trouble.Its too difficult.”Then the force of Rajas comes to his aid.Here,rajas represents the sculptors will to conquer his lethargy & difficulties of his medium.It also represents sculptor’s muscular exertion which he puts to carry out his work.If sufficient amount of Rajas is generated,tamas will be overcome & the ideal form of sattva will be embodied in a tangible clay object.Hence,all three gunas are necessary for an act of creation.

Sattva guna encourages one to move towards harmony,serenity & enlightenment.The person with this quality is keen to transcend the ego boundary,experience the truth & enlightenment.Rajas guna pushes the person to strengthen his ego boundary by fulfilling desires of achievement,possession & control.This creates intense activity & instability.
Tamas guna takes people into a state of sluggishness where they are not motivated to do anything.

It is according to combination of these qualities that we make any choice in our life.Once a quality becomes active,it tries to pull the person from the other two & structure his life around it.However,once the person starts to structure his life around one quality,the pull from the other two starts becoming powerful sooner or later.

When we witness these qualities operating in our personalities,we are able to transcend the duality.It must be noted that the Atman or the self is beyond these qualities.

Posted in Bhagavad Gita, Spirituality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

DIRECT & INDIRECT KNOWLEDGE

Our brain is divided into halves -Left hemisphere & Right hemisphere,both of which are connected at the central of the cerebral cavity by a tissue.We shall take a look at how the 2 sides of brain function & what is their role in perceiving the outer world.Science has found out that each of our two brains sees the world in a completely different way.

Left side of the brain perceives the world in a linear manner.It creates the concept of causality–the image that one thing causes the other because it always precedes it.Right hemisphere on the other hand ,perceives whole pattern.

In the book ‘You’ll see it when you believe it‘,the author Wayne Dyer mentions that the word ‘Water’ can not get you wet.You can’t drink the word water or the chemical symbol ‘H2O’.Instead,you must have direct experience with Water.Symbols do not follow the same rules as the experience itself.
The problem we encounter with Enlightenment or Awakening experience is that exact nature of experience can’t be communicated merely by speaking about it.To make this point,

You can never know about this famous Indian sweet by merely seeing the picture or reading about it or watching someone else eat it.

Suppose you come to India & you’re told about a sweet called ‘Gulab Jamun‘.People living here enjoy it regularly.Even if you question them,how can they ever explain to you precisely what it is like to eat a Gulab Jamun.You must eat the sweet & have a direct experience with it so as to know what is a Gulab Jamun.

Similarly,to understand what is Enlightenment or who is Krishna,you must experience it for yourself.It is thus, Buddha said “Truth is always half said & half understood“.

Q. How do you communicate an experience?
Ans. You don’t.But by letting others how to progress on the path to Enlightenment,you enable others to have it.

To stand in awe & wonder is to understand in a very specific way,even if that understanding can’t be described.The subjective experience of wonder is a message to rational mind that the object of wonder is being perceived & understood in many ways other than rational.You’ll find that you do understand but in a way that you’ll never be able to put in words.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

SOAP AND WATER

Attachment & Aversion both are considered to be the obstacles to Enlightenment.Spiritual aspirant must not leave the things of this world too much;but he must not hate them either.Buddha’s beautiful quote can help one to remain detached,

bloom lotus with seed and leaf under sunshine in summer
Removing the obstacles of Attachment & aversion is compared to washing of a piece of dirty cloth in Patanjali Yoga sutras.In this context,the Mind is compared to a dirty cloth.Although as a child,our mind was immaculate as the Source;but the conditioned life we experience on the Earth made our minds impure due to attachment,aversion,greed,anger & other similar impurities.

Now,to wash a dirty cloth,first the dirt must be loosened with the soap & then washed away by clean water.Here,the Soap represents the preliminary step which includes study,various disciplines & practice of mindfulness.Water represents the practice of meditation.

The important point is that both soap & water are indispensable if the ‘cloth’ of Mind is to be properly cleansed.The one can’t be used effectively without the other.It is because of this Buddha said that there is no Meditation without wisdom & there is no wisdom without meditation.

Wisdom can be considered to be the transformation of intellectual or bookish knowledge into real personal experience.For the application,the correct knowledge must be acquired.Acquiring the knowledge of Soul is the first step on Spiritual Path.Once the Knowledge is acquired,it must be meditated upon.


Meditation is the principal instrument through which wisdom is gained.Just like we sharpen a pencil for a purpose (ie.for the purpose of writing),similarly we sharpen our minds through mediation (& Mindfulness) for the purpose of gaining Wisdom.

Posted in Spirituality, YOGA | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

ANAND BAKSHI

His words will echo through Eternity

There are some artists whose contributions are immense, but people forget them as the arrow of the time passes.People even fail to recognize their work, (unless they are made to realize).One of such artists was Anand Bakshi.
For a few,he does not need an introduction but for many of us today,he does.Anand Bakshi was one of the greatest lyricist of his time;the only one (along with Majrooh Sultanpuri) who enjoyed a long successful career in Indian Cinema.

It seems to me that the word Artist & Struggle go together.The phase of Struggle can be compared to the process of giving heat treatment to upgrade the quality of ‘gold’. More you heat the gold, more pure it gets.Similarly, when an artist goes through struggle phase, the real ‘artist’ in him grows.His connection with the divine Spirit grows stronger & if he is able to hold on through this tough phase,he is likely to Succeed.


Anand Bakshi is just one of many examples who had an inspiring life story.He was born in Rawalpindi in 1930 which was still  a part of India at that time.His dream was to join Bollywood, interestingly as a Singer but he faced an opposition from his family ( another common ‘Artist’ feature).He ran away from his home to join Indian Navy in a hope to reach Bombay.Due to partition of India in 1947, he was forced to rejoin his family in Lucknow.

He took a job as a Telephone Operator, but he was still determined to run after his dream.He got his first chance to write for the film Bhala Admi (1958);for which he did not receive much recognition.Then followed long periods of struggle (almost 4-6 years) when he had to work as a Motor mechanic in Delhi.
Mr.Bakshi was still persistent even after so many troubles.He got another chance in Jab jab Phool khile (1965) but the 1967 blockbuster Milan set the stage for a golden age which followed Anand Bakshi.

Persistence is the most important key to Success.

 

Anand Bakshi had arrived & he was to ready to Rock.He pulled off some great numbers like Geet gata hoon main,Ye jeevan hai,Gaadi bula rahi hai,Ye kya hua;to name a few.Another song ‘Zindagi ke Safar me’ is undoubtedly one of the best song ever written in Hindi.
A creative person comes to the world & enhances its beauty.He makes the world dance better,enjoy better,love better,meditate better & so on.When Anand Bakshi left the world on 30th March 2002; he left a better world behind him.

Posted in Music, Personalities, Rock, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

FAITH

Blind credulity which accepts all kinds of dogmas & creeds without question,repeating parrot-like what has been taught & closing its ears to doubt & reason.Such faith is compounded of laziness,obstinacy,ignorance & fear.Because it is rigid & unyielding it can be quite easily shaken & altogether be destroyed.For agnostics ‘faith’ is often a term of abuse.
However,this is not the true faith.True faith is flexible,provisional,un-dogmatic,open to doubt & reason.True faith is not like a picture frame-a permanently limited area of acceptance; it is like a plant or a tree which keeps on growing.All we require at the beginning is a seed.And the seed be nothing more than a feeling of interest in the possibilities of the Spiritual life.


Suppose you are subject to indigestion.One day you read a book about diet or meet a doctor who tells you he can restore your health if you follow his instruction.You do not have to accept the book/doctor with blind faith,but you do have to have provisional,hypothetical faith.You’ve to assume that the diet will help your condition.You’ve to try it before you can say with authority whether it is helpful or useless.So,too with the spiritual diet that the great teachers have recommended.You’ve to have a provisional faith in the word of your teacher.

Similarly,when we talk about Enlightenment,the first obstacle we must overcome is the doubt that exists in the minds about whether or not an end of suffering is really possible.Unless we believe that a doctor can cure us of a physical pain,we will never seek his advice,never undergo appropriate therapy & may consequently die of an illness that could have been cured had we only had sufficient confidence to seek help.

Nirmala Devi

Nirmala Devi

How can I believe in Enlightenment if I’ve never experienced it” is the most common perception of people.Even now most of us have never observed sub-atomic reality,yet we accept its existence because there are those among us with special training & appropriate instruments to observe it.To achieve Enlightenment,the instrument is Mind & the training is meditation to purify it.Confidence in possibility of being Enlightened is an indispensable prerequisite in practice of meditation.

Posted in Enlightenment, Spirituality | Tagged , , | Leave a comment