Conversation with Deepak, Vamadeva, Shambhavi: Ultimate mysteries of reality


Published on Dec 14, 2016

Deepak Chopra and Vedic Scholars Vamadeva and Shambhavi discuss the ultimate mysteries of Reality.
How Consciousness becomes Reality.

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Ayurveda and the Mind: The Healing of Consciousness by David Dr. Frawley (Author)

Ayurveda and the Mind is perhaps the first book published in the West that explores specifically the psychological aspect of this great system. The book deals with the ways Ayurveda can heal our minds – from the subconscious states to the super-conscious states of mind. This includes many practices to be followed in diet, meditation, yoga, mantra, impressions, and several other methods that culminate in creating wholeness. The author shares with us his comprehensive understanding of the Vedic wisdom of healing the mind, body and the soul alike. A must read for those who wish to know the astounding power of Ayurveda.


Dr. David Frawley (or Pandit Vāmadeva Śāstrī वामदेव शास्त्री) is a Vedic teacher and educator who is the author of over thirty books in several Vedic and Yogic fields published worldwide over the past thirty years. He is the founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies (www.vedanet.com), which offers on-line courses and publications on Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga, mantra and meditation, and Vedic astrology.

He is involved in important research into ancient Vedic texts and is a well known modern exponent of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma. He has a rare D.Litt in Yoga and is a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, one of India’s highest civilian awards for “distinguished service of a higher order.” His work is highly respected in traditional circles in India, as well as influential in the West, where he is involved in many Vedic and Yogic schools, ashrams and associations.

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David Frawley – Ayurveda and Yoga

David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) discusses the connection between Ayurveda and Yoga as ways to work with the healing powers of nature. In this interview with Swami Sitaramananda he introduces the Ayurveda and Yoga Wellness Counselor Certification course as a foundational course for therapeutically applying Ayurveda and Yoga.

Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness by David Frawley

As yoga gains popularity across the U.S., many people are becoming interested in its traditional Vedic roots. While Buddhist meditation is well represented on bookshelves, there has been little Vedantic philosophy written in lay terms until now. Author David Frawley guides readers through the challenges of cultivating awareness, calming the mind, and practicing meditation according to Vedanta and Hinduism.

He examines how cultural knowledge systems in the West lead individuals to disillusionment, and speaks about how meditation can aid in understanding the true nature of one’s thoughts, emotions, and perceptions. Frawley explores meditation support practices such as yoga, mantras, kundalini, and pranayama, as well as the role of gurus, and concludes with a short, more technical essay on self-inquiry.
David Frawley (or Pandit Vāmadeva Śāstrī वामदेव शास्त्री) is a Vedic teacher and educator with numerous books in several Vedic and Yogic fields published worldwide over the past thirty years. He is the founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico (www.vedanet.com), which offers courses and publications on Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga and meditation, and Vedic astrology. He is also involved in important research into ancient Vedic texts and is a well known modern exponent of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma. His work is high respected in traditional circles in India, where he has received many awards, as well as influential in the West, where he is involved in many Vedic and Yogic schools, ashrams and associations.

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Vedic Knowledge Integration with David Frawley

David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) Interview on Aaj Savere Morning Show of Doordarshan


David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) interviewed by India’s National Channel Doordarshan. In this candid interview he speaks intensely about his understanding of vedas, shastras and upanishads, he even explains his love for India and it’s enviable culture and history. a MUST WATCH. Posted with expressed permission from DOORDARSHAN and American Institute of Vedic Studies (www.vedanet.com).

Soma : The Nectar of Rejuvenation ~ Dr. David Frawley

David Frawley – The Nectar Of Rejuvenation Free Webcast

Yoga and AyurVeda; Self-Healing and Self-Realization by Dr. David Frawley

Overview

Yoga and Ayurveda
together form a complete approach for optimal health, vitality and higher awareness. Yoga & Ayurveda reveals to us the secret powers of the body, breath, senses, mind and chakras. More importantly, it unfolds transformational methods to work on them through diet, herbs asana, pranayama and meditation. This is the first book published in the West on these two extraordinary subjects and their interface. It has the power to change the lives of those who read and apply it.

Yoga and Ayurveda address our entire nature, our greater life as a spiritual and cosmic being. It examines the broader scope of Ayurveda, which includes not only physical health but also mental health and preparation for the spiritual life. Similarly it looks into the entire field of yoga, the science of raja yoga and its eight limbs. from asana to meditation. This book is meant for those who want to explore a deeper level of knowledge than what is usually described in introductory books on these subjects, which are commonly available. It discusses many details about the subtle and causal bodies and their energetics, including much more information not previously in print in English.

David Frawley is a Vedic teacher and educator with numerous books in several Vedic and Yogic fields published worldwide over the past thirty years. He is the founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico (www.vedanet.com), which offers courses and publications on Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga and meditation, and Vedic astrology. He is also involved in important research into ancient Vedic texts and is a well known modern exponent of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma. His work is high respected in traditional circles in India, where he has received many awards, as well as influential in the West, where he is involved in many Vedic and Yogic schools, ashrams and associations.

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Dr David Frawley speaks at Punarnava Ayurveda’s International Ayurveda & Yoga Conference

At the 2nd International Ayurveda & Yoga conference in Rishikesh, India. Ayurveda – A complete yogic system of medicine by Dr David Frawley.

Where he also shares insights and in-depth experiences of these two Ancient Indian Knowledge Systems.

Atma Devata, the Self as the Divinity ~ Vedacharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)

Atman means the Self or soul, the very essence of our being as pure consciousness. It is common to all living creatures and pervades the entire universe.

In the modern world, psychology dominates our thinking relative to the mind and emotions, the self and ego and has its influence on how we view spirituality and yoga as well. We have also come to look at the Atman in a psychological light, sometimes to the detriment of its broader reality.

Spirituality is about the pursuit of self-knowledge and self-realization. There has been an effort to turn this into a kind of psychological self-knowledge, an analysis of human emotions as the prime factor. But Self-knowledge in the sense of the Atman is something much more than that. There is a modern effort to psychologize spirituality. On the positive side, this may help to spiritualize psychology, bringing yoga and meditation into psychological approaches. Yet on the negative side, it can confuse spirituality and yoga with mere human psychology. It can reduce our spiritual self or soul to the confines and concerns of the ego and our outer nature as a mere social or political entity.

Beyond the Psychological to the Cosmic Self

Our true Self is not the psychological self, which is the ego that is to be discarded for it to shine forth. Our true Self is not the personal identity of this particular incarnation. It is not the self-formations of emotion or our personal likes and dislikes. Nor is it our mental or intellectual identity through the opinions, beliefs and predilections of our thought processes. It is not even our human self but our soul that unites us to all beings and all worlds.

To put it simply: our true Self or Atman is a Devata or Divine principle. The Self is a principle of subjectivity, awareness and self-being inherent in all existence. It is the ultimate principle behind all the laws, principles and dharmas operative in this magical universe of mind and matter.

Our true Self is a divinity, a God or Goddess as it were, the very Divine power behind the manifestation of time, space and causation. We are God. God is our true nature. Yet this Divinity is not a theological principle but the very nature of existence that is self-aware, self-determining and self-responsible. This Atman or Self is Brahman or the Absolute Being-Consciousness-Bliss.

An important yogic approach common to both Veda and Tantra is to approach our true Self as a Divinity. This is to honor the Divine presence within us, to respect our own being and consciousness as sacred, immortal and untainted.

From the standpoint of psychology and the spiritual systems that use it as a cornerstone, such worship of the Self within can appear to be an adulation of the ego, an ignoring of our personal faults, and our responsibility to other people, a fantasy to cover over facing the hard realities of our emotional nature. Yet such psychological reductionism can also be rigid and can cut of the roots of aspiration and idealism within us.

An important law of the mind is that whatever we focus our attention on that we become. It is, as it were, the Divinity we aspire to become. The danger in fixating on the neurotic psychological self is that we end up becoming it, we can get lost in an endless obsession with its peculiarities, traumas and idiosyncrasies. We can reinforce the psychological self rather than releasing it.

We should learn to worship the true Self within us as the Self of all beings and the Being behind all existence, as the light of all the worlds. This can take us in an instant beyond our human problems and attachments. Our problems are inherent in our psychology which focuses on our personal identity as our true reality. We cannot go beyond them without opening up to that which in us that transcends them. This is the universal Self within.

To do so we must set the psychological self aside, which is also to learn to see it as a formulation of universal forces, elements and qualities, not as something unique to ourselves. All of nature works within us and moves externally according to the glory and the beauty of the Self within. Our psychological self is just another formation of nature’s energy and expression, but blocked to our deeper reality.

Of course, we all have a psychological self just as we all have human bodies. But focusing on the psychological self will no more take us to truth than will focusing on our physical bodies take us to pure awareness. We should give the psychological self its appropriate place in our lives as a mechanism of personal existence but not confuse it with our true reality.

The Freedom of the Atman

Feel free to let your personal self aside and be one with all. Feel free to give up your likes and dislikes, your joys and sorrows and find contentment in your own inner being beyond all gain and loss.

Feel free to go beyond your human self and find yourself in nature, in the plants, rocks, animals, in the clouds, sun and stars, and beyond.

Let your self-sense naturally expand like the wind through the release of your breath to the most distant horizon. Unite the light of your mind and senses with the light of the sun and stars.

Your true Self is the pure light of awareness beyond body and mind. It gives light, life and love to all creatures and brings beauty and bliss to the entire universe. Accept that light within and cease dwelling in its shadows in your outer nature.

Learn to worship that true Self within. Just as you offer flowers or prayers to the Divinity of your choice, do so to the Self as the divinity within. See the Devata in your Self and your Self in the Devata. Let Shiva, Krishna or Devi or whatever form you worship be reflected in your own Self. The Devatas are more your real Self than is your psychological Self. Learn to be one with that Atma Devata in all the Devatas. Let your true Self be all the Gods and Goddesses, Gurus and Avatars, which are only its manifestations. Unfold your Divine being and beauty with fearlessness and delight. Be yourself the God or Goddess that is your deepest reality and your true dignity as pure consciousness in manifestation.

Sacred Activism: Activating the Divine Powers in Nature ~ Vedacharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri

There are many movements going on today that aim to change or improve the world in this time of global crisis. Almost everyone is encouraging us to become an activist in one form or another, for one cause or another. While I don’t doubt the necessity of this position, and have been an active for several causes myself, I wonder whether it is enough. Can anything we do as mere human beings take us out of the rut caused by the unsacred way in which we live, by our human centered way of life that tramples the world of nature around us and blinds us to the spirit beyond?

We mainly look to human agencies to help us or to improve the world. We look to politics to elect a better party or better leader to show us the way beyond the problems that politicians have caused. Or we look to economics for a better plan to use our resources or a way to more equitably distribute the wealth, though our business and economic leaders have shown themselves to be woefully shorted sighted in their actions. We want governmental help, charitable grants or media coverage for our cause in order to better promote it in society, though the government and media often seem to be making our problems worse. We think by changing human institutions and those who runs them that the world will also change.

If we do look to the spiritual realm, it is also usually to human agencies, human teachers and manmade, historical beliefs and human-centered dogmas. We try to save other people through our personal belief or conviction, as if making the majority of people follow a certain religious or spiritual formula that appeals to us will magically solve all other problems. If we call upon God, it is usually a rather human God, sometimes with notable political biases, and it is to favor our particular group and its interests that our prayers usually go forth, not to transcend our differences or to dissolve them in the Divine presence that is beyond all names and forms.

The fundamental problem – which is at the root of all our outer social and personal problems – is that we as human beings are asleep and insensitive to the sacred world in which we live. We do not honor Nature and the Divine powers at work within her ever changing currents. The result is that we do not honor each other or even honor ourselves, much less the greater non-human world. We don’t see the beauty of life as a whole; much less sense its deeper consciousness. We plunder and pillage nature in our search for our human happiness, pleasure, wealth and power, or at best make nature into an adornment for our self-aggrandizement.

In the commercial realm, everything is a commodity to buy or sell whose value will go up or down in an unpredictable manner. We are judged by what we own, earn or – worse yet in the age of credit cards – by what we owe, as if these numbers had some positive value and lasting significance for the real meaning of our lives. In the religious realm, the individual is commonly regarded as a soul to be harvested or a potential donor for a belief or an institution. We are judged by a religious label or name that puts us in a limited camp, not by a greater sense of unity with the universe that transcends all human definitions. We seem trapped in an outer show of superficial quantities in which our higher Self, which is more akin to the stars, is forgotten along with the living world around us.

The Volcano’s Voice

Recently I had the honor of being part of an ancient Hawaiian ritual to Pele, the Goddess of fire, the volcano Goddess, at cliff at the rim of the crater of Kilauea in Hawaii, the world’s most active volcano, which was steaming with sulfur. We were accompanied by representatives of the island’s spiritual elders who had a living lineage and connection to that Goddess power no human agency can ever control. One could feel oneself drawn into the crater almost palpable manner, as if one would gladly become a human offering to the Goddess.

The great Gods and Goddesses of geology, of the primal earth energies, were alive and one could sense them, smell them and almost touch them, their energies pervading the physical and the psychic air. These powers were sensitive and aware and could guide us to a deeper consciousness, peace and transcendence, if we could but leave our human identities and compulsions behind.

At that moment, one’s individual life, and the entire human world, seemed rather small and trifling, a brief lull in the midst of greater geological transformations that marked the land. One could sense yet more primeval powers at the origins of creation when the entire universe was a vast erupting ball of fire and great Deities looked over the beautiful inferno of light with timeless eyes, gliding through the currents with a bodiless joy and an unbounded energy that had no end.

Native peoples – to the extent that we still leave them to their original cultures – and the ancient world in general, reflect a sense of the sacred that allows them to honor every plant, animal, land formation, cloud or star. For them life is measured by the sacred time of nature’s rhythms. Every human action requires a prayer and a ritual to make it part of the greater sacred world. Such native cultures have largely been dehumanized and devitalized and are but a shadow of their former selves. But we can still sense the sacred moving in them and their traces on the land.

We continued along the crater’s rim and soon encountered the usual groups of tourists, who went in and out of their cars for a quick view of nature’s wonders. It was an odd sensation. One could still feel the ancient deities and the sacred mystery of the land, but the people one saw missed this altogether, floating in their personal thoughts oblivious that they were at the womb of the great Goddess herself. Of course, they saw the crater with their physical eyes but it was mainly a geological phenomenon or a photo opportunity, a memento of having been to the vacation paradise of the Hawaian islands.

Such modern people, largely divested of the sacred, seemed like shadows, though no doubt all were looking for something sacred to give meaning to their lives. One could sense the anguish of those who worshipped the volcano Goddess to see the sacred body of their mother trampled upon as a tourist curiosity. We did not see anyone else bow down to the Goddess, much less make her an offering, call out to her or hear her voice, though probably it echoed in the minds of many passerbys as a strange and unrecognizable background sound.

Sacred Activism

I don’t think we can really heal our planet or bring peace to society unless we reestablish our link to the sacred universe. This requires not just an ecological or artistic appreciation of nature but a recognition of the awesome consciousness and cataclysmic power that pervades the entire universe, making it into a single dynamic organism that we human beings are but a small part of. Connecting to the sacred is not a matter of a religious belief, joining the right church or having the right religious or spiritual identity. It is not just a matter of taking a few yoga classes, learning a meditation technique or chanting a mantra once in a while. It requires surrendering our human mind to the greater cosmic consciousness and energy, in which we lose our human selves and human identity altogether.

Perhaps the best way to begin this deeper healing is to honor the Divine powers in the world of nature around us. If we live in a land that has had a recent native tradition, we will find that most of the nearby sacred sites in nature are known to them and have been honored by them. We can follow their link. Otherwise we can follow our inner inspiration and look to the deeper consciousness behind the wonders of nature around us, which requires spending contemplative time around them away from the noise of the human world. Nature is our mother, not a commercial commodity to be exploited. She will speak to us if we call out to her, just as no real mother ever abandons her children.

We can awaken the sacred powers in our own environment. This can be done through flowers, aromas, incense, special waters, rocks and plants that abound around us. It will follow the movements of the seasons, the Moon, eclipses or special astrological combinations that connect us to the realm of cosmic and sacred time beyond all mundane chronologies. By making our lives sacred, we can change the world at a root level, and change our society in a way that no mere human institution can ever likely bring about of its own accord.

Above all, we need to honor the Goddess or Divine Mother, whose body is the world of nature. The Goddess is always awake. We are born through her power and at death her force will lead us to her greater reality. It is not a matter of awakening her but of awakening our connection to her, which makes us spiritually awake, which means beyond all manmade and limiting identities and propaganda.

To awaken the Goddess in one’s life, one needs a form. It can be an image or statue of the Goddess, or some natural object like a flower or plant, a special rock, the Moon. There is no formless worship of the Goddess unless it is first rooted in form. And she cannot truly be honored unless she is recognized as the mother of the entire universe.

For a yogic and world transforming spiritual activism, we need to reawaken the divine powers in nature that our spiritual slumber has removed us from. We need to restore the sacred sites of traditional peoples, even if this might involve removing modern buildings that have been erected over them. Our museums are filled with the desecrated and stolen sacred objects of many peoples and many lands. We should at least allow them to be honored, adorned and worshipped.

If we study the existing interpretations of traditional and non-western religions in our educational systems, we find a crude insensitivity that denigrates their sacred forms and practices according to our modern obsessions of sex, economics or politics, turning these doorways to the sacred into forms of ridicule, marks of the primitive, while it is our modern culture that is more truly lacking in sensitivity or higher intelligence to the cosmic forces. We need to reexamine these sacred traditions with respect to their elders, not to our erudition or technology.

Restoring Our Sacred Connection

Let us bring back all the Gods and Goddesses of all lands and countries, all times and all places, and their connection with the land, the waters and the sky as part of our daily life experience. Let us set aside scientific, psychological, and theological interpretations of what words cannot describe in the first place. Let us awaken to the Divine presence at the ground of existence, humble ourselves before it and live according to its grace. Let us be respectful of the Divine nature and beauty of every person, culture and tradition, even more so to those that are close to the land and without a voice in the world media or academia.

Make sure to awaken the Gods and Goddesses in yourself and in your own life, home, garden, family and community. It may be more important to awaken the Divine presence around us than to get out the vote for one cause or another or to make the best possible donation to a worthy cause. While it is good to marshal human resources in a caring direction, without bringing the Divine power of nature into the process, we may just be alienating ourselves further from the true wellsprings of life, creation and happiness. We may be just making another offering to the demon of the human mind and its endless conflicts and assertions.

For this natural awakening no preaching or moralizing, which is a sin against the Divine presence in each person, is necessary or even possible. The only thing that we really need to become cognizant of is the power of transformation inherent in life itself. The entire universe is a temple, starting with our own bodies. All our actions should be rituals or sacred actions. All our thoughts should be prayers and mantras. All our buildings should be temples, including our own homes, where the fire of the sacred should be kept burning bright in one way or another.

So awaken a deity in your life today. You can do it, and if you do it will give your life a meaning that will extend into the entire universe, not just Wall Street, Hollywood or Washington DC. Find what is most sacred in your environment, honor it and call out to it, infuse it with the life of your aspiration. Not only will it come to life – be it a statue, a rock or a plant – but you will come to life as well. You will find that you can truly see, hear, and touch things again as if for the first time. You won’t need the mass media to distract you any more or to entertain your boredom. You won’t need the false temples of shopping malls, sports arenas, or drive in churches. The world of nature will gain a palpable presence that will nourish your inner being with every breath. You will enter into the cosmic waters and begin to swim in its currents, your mind and heart, becoming pure and clear.

The Divine reality is One but this unity has its unique presence in every aspect of nature, in every nuance of every object that we can see or touch. The different Gods and Goddesses of various nature-honoring traditions are not a primitive polytheism but an abundant living experience of the One that is infinite. Unless one experiences the Divine in nature, one cannot experience the Creator or the Absolute beyond time and space. One cannot be saved from the alienation from Divine unity that is the root of all suffering unless one leaves ego and body consciousness to embrace the greater universe. We are lacking in that direct perception of life and existence, which brings the sacred into every moment. If our human self and identity remains at the forefront, the Divine is not there.

Unless we bring back the Gods and Goddesses, a lasting experience of unity at a spiritual level will not be possible. We will be trapped in human ideas, caught in dogmas, institutions, slogans and sentiments, barred from entering into the cosmic reality, not by any act of God but by our own ignorance. So let us become sacred activists, yogic activists, if you will, those whose action is to bring the deities back into the human world and to the world of nature that we have banished them from, so that the human world can go beyond its egoistic boundaries. We need to reawaken the deities not only in our temples but also in our land, air and space, regarding our entire environment as sacred.

If you can help bring one sacred site or sacred form back to life, you will likely to have done more for the world than any amount of outer actions. Of course, we need to continue to act responsibly in the outer world, including voting wisely and using our money with care, but these should be part of a greater sacred endeavor, not its primary factor but its natural consequence. Let the voice of all beings in the universe, its wonderful powers of consciousness, and the voice of the cosmic silence beyond be heard as well as our own human voices, which themselves should be attuned to the cosmic rhythms, not the daily gossip.

Destiny in the Palm of Your Hand: Creating Your Future through Vedic Palmistry By Ghanshyam Singh Birla Foreword by David Frawley

Use the ancient Indian art of Vedic palmistry as a guide to self-understanding and the creation of your destiny.

• Learn to influence your future to bring forth the best qualities of heart, mind, and soul.

• Read a record of the past, a print of the present, and guidance for the future in the ever changing interplay of lines.

• Become aware of your innate tendencies and personality type from the lines in your palms.

• Includes a palm print kit.

One’s destiny isn’t carved in stone. Rather than predicting a set future, Vedic palmistry shows us how to take active steps to influence and improve our destinies once we have gained better self-understanding.

Using dozens of illustrations and examples of actual palm prints, Birla demonstrates how our less dominant hand reflects all that we have inherited from the past–old behavior patterns, thoughts, desires, and attitudes–while our dominant hand (the hand we write with) reflects our resolve to change for the better. By comparing both hands we gain an understanding of where we are coming from and where we are headed. As we make positive changes in our lives, the lines on our palms will actually change to reflect our progress. An inked acetate palm printer is included with the book so that you can make an accurate imprint of your palms, allowing you to check back and see the changes reflected in your hands as you transform your destiny.

Ghanshyam Singh Birla founded the National Research Institute for Self-Understanding and the Palmistry Center in Montreal, Canada, in 1972. Dr. Birla has lectured extensively and written numerous articles and texts on the powerful insights of the Vedic sciences, including Love in the Palm of Your Hand and Magnet Therapy. He has appeared on Good Morning America and The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Recently, Dr. Birla established a 300-acre lakefront retreat in Cheneville, Quebec, which serves as an international facility for studies and services in palmistry, astrology, and Ayurvedic healing.

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Why You Should Learn Palmistry, the 5000 years old Vedic Science of Hast Jyotish. (Part 1 of 2)

Ghanshyam Singh Birla, Vedic Palmist-Astrologer and the Founder of The Birla Center for Hast Jyotish, explain why you should learn palmistry, the vedic science of Hast Jyotish. If you want to learn palmistry (how to read hand palms), visit http://www.birlacenter.com

Why You Should Learn Palmistry, the 5000 years old Vedic Science of Hast Jyotish. (Part 2 of 2)

Lecture on SOMA Part 1 – 5 by David Frawley ( Vamadeva Shastri )

For more information on Soma in Yoga and Ayurveda: The Power of Rejuvenation and Immortality by Dr. David Frawley View Here

The Flow of Soma ~ By David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)


Soma and Ananda

The Vedic ritual reaches its climax in the Soma offering, in which specially prepared plant juices are offered into the sacred fire (Agni) as the drink of the Gods. But this ancient ritual reflects a deeper internal ritual or alchemy of awareness that is its real import. In exploring this process, we will discover many secrets of the practice of Yoga, including the path of Self-inquiry or Jnana Yoga.

Soma is first of all part of a great universal symbolism. Soma pervades the outer world as water in its various forms on the earth and in the sky, as the sap of plants, the vital fluids in animals, the Moon, and even the waters (vibratory field) of space. Soma exists inside ourselves as a psychological principle of feeling, love and inspiration, including as our creativity that we manifest in diverse forms.

Yet beyond this, Soma is a spiritual principle, an aspect of the infinite and a key to immortality. In the state of meditation, the brain and mind naturally secrete a special type of Soma or nectar of peace and contentment, which reflects this spiritual Soma. Ultimately Soma is the bliss of all existence, the Ananda through which the universe is created and into which it must return. It is this Soma or Ananda that is the prima materia or ultimate substance behind the entire world.

Soma and Agni: Bliss and Consciousness

However, to really understand Soma, we must also understand Agni, the fire, light or energy principle, which is its counterpart. In Vedic thought, the twin principles of Agni and Soma are behind all workings in the universe on all levels. On an outer level, they refer to the great elements of fire and water, but their inner symbolism goes much deeper. Such a twofold division of reality takes many forms like Purusha and Prakriti, Vishnu and Lakshmi, and Shiva and Shakti. Indeed, Lord Shiva, the supreme Godhead, is said to be Agni-Somatmakam or both Agni and Soma in nature. His right side is Agni in nature–fiery, harsh or masculine. His left side is Soma in nature– watery, gentle or feminine. These are the basis of his two manifestations as fierce (ghora or Agni) and gentle (saumya or Soma).

Yet even as elements, Agni and Soma are more than any outer symbolism. Agni as fire represents light (Jyoti) in the broadest sense, which includes the light of perception and the light of consciousness, not simply light as a material principle. Soma as water (Apas) is the medium on which light can be reflected, which is ultimately a quality of light itself. In this regard Soma is not only water, but the mind and ultimately, the reflective power of consciousness itself.

Soma as a cosmic power, however, is not simply watery in its nature. It has an oily quality that can nourish and sustain fire. In this regard it has been compared to ghee (ghrita) in texture. All objects that we see are like fuel for the flame of our awareness. Soma also has a sweet quality and has been compared to honey (madhu). All that we see is like a flower, from which the honey of bliss can be extracted. These properties that can sustain light and provide joy pervade all of space. Great yogis can access them with their subtle bodies (the linga or fire body) and move at will through all the worlds, finding nourishment and delight in all that they perceive.

Soma is the delight which is the counterpart of light. On the deepest level, Agni is the fire of consciousness (Chidagni) that is reflected in the Soma or water of bliss. In this regard Agni and Soma are ultimately the same, two complementary aspects of Brahman.

Objectless Delight

The highest Soma is the delight inherent in existence itself (Brahman), not simply the pleasure produced by contact with external objects. Soma is the ‘pure delight’ that we are truly seeking in all that we pursue, not mere temporary pleasure that wears away the senses and is only its reflection. Any happiness that is based upon contact with an external object must be fleeting and must eventually end in pain. This higher ‘objectless’ joy or self-delight can only be perceived by an internal consciousness beyond the fluctuations of the mind, by the unwavering flame of awareness. We can achieve that through taking the state of the witness (sakshi-bhava), which provides the joy of perception and avoids the pain of involvement. As long as we rely on external contacts to gain our Soma or happiness, we cannot escape from the wheel of sorrow.

We are all seeking some form of happiness in life. We all want lasting bliss. This seeking of Soma is inherent in the soul, which is ever seeking to return to its origin in God. Similarly, we are always extracting some form of Soma out of our life experience. This essence or rasa is ultimately delight. That is why the Upanishads refer to the Self as rasa (raso vai sah).

The Self is said to be the fluidity of water, the heat of fire, the power of the wind to move, the power of the earth to hold and the power of space to pervade. It is the unique quality or special essence, what is the highest and best in all things. This unique essence is Soma. We discover the Self by going to the essence of our own nature. The Self is the eye of the eye, the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind. It is the truth of truth. This extraction of the essence from all that we know is extracting the Soma that is hidden in all things. This extraction process occurs in the purification filter (pavitra) of the heart, by the light of which we can discern the heart or core of all things.

The Seer and the Seen

Relative to the Yoga of Knowledge (Jnana Yoga), Agni is the seer and Soma is the seen. Seeing has a fiery quality and works through light. The seen is the field illumined by light and is actually only light or consciousness reflected externally. Our very power of seeing is a power of fire while all that we see is potentially fuel for it. If our seeing is clear then it can disclose the Soma or Ananda hidden in all that we see. The fire of seeing is able to ripen, cook or bring out the essence of all that we observe. The key to the alchemy of Jnana (Self-knowledge) is that whatever we look at with full attention, with a fully energized Agni or fire of awareness, will yield Soma or delight, not as an external enjoyment but as the very bliss of the Self.

When we look at things directly, without division, their essence comes forth, which is Ananda. This is the state of Samadhi, which is the flowing of Soma at an inner level. The unity of Agni and Soma is the unity of the perceiver and the perceived. When we learn to look at our inner self wholly and fully, through the practice of Self-inquiry, then the delight inherent in the Self must come forth as the ultimate Soma or self-delight.

The Five Koshas

The five sheaths or koshas are a common yogic teaching going back to the Taittiriya Upanishad. Each of these five levels of our nature has its own form of Agni or fire, which is its essential energy. Each has its equivalent form of Soma, which is its main fuel. Agni is the eater or enjoyer, while Soma is the food or substance enjoyed.

At the physical level (Annamaya kosha), the digestive fire (Jathargni) is the Agni, and the food and drink we take in through the mouth is the Soma. Higher physical forms of Soma include special rejuvenating foods, beverages and herbs that can revitalize the body, brain and nervous system.

At the pranic or vital level (Pranamaya kosha), Pranagni or the vital fire is the Agni and our vital enjoyments of exercise and activity are the Soma. Higher Pranic forms of Soma including Pranayama practices that can revitalize our internal Pranas and balance their energies towards transformation.

At the level of the outer or sensory mind (Manomaya kosha), the mental fire (Manasika Agni) is the Agni and our various sensory enjoyments are the Soma. Higher mental forms of Soma include mantra, visualizations and meditations that bring in a higher level of experience into the mind.

At the level of the inner or discriminating mind (Vijnanamaya Kosha), the Buddhi or discriminating intelligence is the Agni and the various principles, beliefs, ideas or dharmas that we pursue in life are the Soma. Special types of Soma for the higher mind include formless meditations on truth, unity, bliss and harmony.

At the level of the soul (Jiva or Anandamaya kosha), our inner consciousness (Chitta) is the Agni, and our entire life experiences and memories are the Soma. Special types of Soma for it include the practice of Self-inquiry in which we digest our life-experiences, burning up our Samskaras (internal karmic tendencies) and turn them into pure awareness.

In this way, the soul or Jiva takes in substances, impressions and ideas from the external world and extracts the nectar of Ananda from them, just as a bee gathers pollen from various flowers and turns them into honey. The ultimate result is the essence (rasa) of our experience that becomes the Ananda or Soma Kosha, in which our karmas and samskaras are held. Those who have cultivated the fire of awareness are able to turn all their experience, including that of sorrow, into Soma or Ananda. This takes them beyond the field of all the Koshas.

Agni and Soma and the Practice of Yoga

In the practice of Yoga, Agni is the fiery Kundalini force that dwells in the root or earth chakra below. It is the power of aspiration that rises from below and ascends to the heavens above. Soma is the watery nectar that dwells in the crown or head chakra. It is the power of Divine grace that descends from above. As Agni rises, Soma descends. The oily drops of Soma provide the fuel for Agni to aid in its upward movement.

The Yoga tradition teaches us that the crown chakra is the region of the Moon or Soma (Chandra Kanda), just as the lower three chakras are the region of fire (Agni-Kanda). Soma, according to the Vedas, flows in a thousand streams. These are the thousand currents of the crown chakra, the Sahasrara or thousand petalled lotus. Physiologically, Agni relates to the solar plexus, while Soma relates to the soft palate in the head, the source of saliva and other secretions in the head. Balancing these two energy centers is an important Yoga practice.

Soma and the Heart

Yet in Vedic thought, Soma descends and flows through the purification filter (pavitra) of the heart, which is also the original home of Agni. The heart is the meeting place of the dual principles of Agni and Soma, fire and water, or consciousness and delight. In this regard we must remember that the spiritual heart or hridaya is not simply a location in the chest. It is also linked with the center of the thousand-petalled lotus.

Everything is contained in the small space (dahara akasha) within heart, including all the other chakras. It contains the entire universe, all worlds and planes of experience, all time and space, and what is beyond all manifestation as well. It is the ultimate abode of God and the soul. In fact, the soul is Soma or the food for God in his creation. In this supreme place, God is the inextinguishable fire and the entire universe is its unending Soma offering.

Self-inquiry and Surrender

Agni is the striving of the soul upward towards the divine, while Soma represents the descending grace of God. Agni represents our will or aspiration to the truth, while Soma represents what inspires us and the goal that we seek. That is why Agni or fire is represented by an upward facing triangle, while water or Soma is represented by a triangle that faces downward.

In this regard, Agni represents Jnana Yoga or the Yoga of Knowledge, which proceeds through the heat and friction of introspection and self-inquiry. This is the main upward movement of the soul. Similarly, Soma represents Bhakti Yoga or the Yoga of Devotion, which proceeds through the flow of surrender. This is the main descending movement of grace.

Self-inquiry (Jnana Yoga) is the best, simplest and most direct method for cultivating our inner fire and reaching the supreme light. Surrender to God or devotion (Bhakti Yoga) is the best, simplest and most direct method for opening up to the flow of grace and reaching the highest delight.

The practice of meditation should always strive to be a dual cultivation of both Agni and Soma, with both deepening perception and joy. A balanced practice should address both Agni and Soma aspects of the practice. Cultivating Agni means cultivating the flame of our awareness, concentration, perception and discrimination. It means increasing the power of the mind to inquire, perceive, penetrate and transform.

Cultivating Soma means cultivating the fuel of devotion, receptivity, love and surrender. It means increasing the power to feel, dissolve, merge and become one with all. We must eventually realize that all things are offerings to the divine light of awareness within us. Then there will be nothing that is not Soma for us.

An internal questioning or Self-inquiry is always naturally occurring within our minds, though broken up or concealed by other habits, impulses and considerations. Our core consciousness is always looking into the meaning and purpose of our lives. We are always reflecting upon ourselves in various ways, through which various feelings and insights or Somas arise that may afford us either pleasure or pain.

Self-inquiry is not about imposing some philosophy upon the mind or even practicing a certain technique, however helpful such factors may be. It is about opening this inner flow of Self-examination that is connected at a deep level with an inner flow of grace. We must cultivate our flame of inquiry but also open up to the flow of grace that makes it possible to sustain it. We must let our inner flame come forth to meet the grace that pervades the entire universe and also is connected to the core of our being.

In this regard there is a helpful metaphor: The mind is like a wick. Knowledge (Jnana) is like the flame, but Devotion (Bhakti) is the oil (ghee). Without the oil to sustain the flame, it will merely burn up the wick. So too, a mind that does not have that flow of grace or devotion, can be burned up or dried out by the flame of knowledge. We should must remember to keep our Soma flowing.

Sacred Activism: Awakening the Divine Powers in Nature ~ David Frawley

There are many movements going on today that aim to change or improve the world in this time of global crisis. Almost everyone is encouraging us to become an activist in one form or another, for one cause or another. While I don’t doubt the necessity of this position, and have been an active for several causes myself, I wonder whether it is enough. Can anything we do as mere human beings take us out of the rut caused by the unsacred way in which we live, by our human centered way of life that tramples the world of nature around us and blinds us to the spirit beyond?

We mainly look to human agencies to help us or to improve the world. We look to politics to elect a better party or better leader to show us the way beyond the problems that politicians have caused. Or we look to economics for a better plan to use our resources or a way to more equitably distribute the wealth, though our business and economic leaders have shown themselves to be woefully shorted sighted in their actions. We want governmental help, charitable grants or media coverage for our cause in order to better promote it in society, though the government and media often seem to be making our problems worse. We think by changing human institutions and those who runs them that the world will also change.

If we do look to the spiritual realm, it is also usually to human agencies, human teachers and manmade, historical beliefs and human-centered dogmas. We try to save other people through our personal belief or conviction, as if making the majority of people follow a certain religious or spiritual formula that appeals to us will magically solve all other problems. If we call upon God, it is usually a rather human God, sometimes with notable political biases, and it is to favor our particular group and its interests that our prayers usually go forth, not to transcend our differences or to dissolve them in the Divine presence that is beyond all names and forms.

The fundamental problem – which is at the root of all our outer social and personal problems – is that we as human beings are asleep and insensitive to the sacred world in which we live. We do not honor Nature and the Divine powers at work within her ever changing currents. The result is that we do not honor each other or even honor ourselves, much less the greater non-human world. We don’t see the beauty of life as a whole; much less sense its deeper consciousness. We plunder and pillage nature in our search for our human happiness, pleasure, wealth and power, or at best make nature into an adornment for our self-aggrandizement.

In the commercial realm, everything is a commodity to buy or sell whose value will go up or down in an unpredictable manner. We are judged by what we own, earn or – worse yet in the age of credit cards – by what we owe, as if these numbers had some positive value and lasting significance for the real meaning of our lives. In the religious realm, the individual is commonly regarded as a soul to be harvested or a potential donor for a belief or an institution. We are judged by a religious label or name that puts us in a limited camp, not by a greater sense of unity with the universe that transcends all human definitions. We seem trapped in an outer show of superficial quantities in which our higher Self, which is more akin to the stars, is forgotten along with the living world around us.

The Volcano’s Voice

Recently I had the honor of being part of an ancient Hawaiian ritual to Pele, the Goddess of fire, the volcano Goddess, at cliff at the rim of the crater of Kilauea in Hawaii, the world’s most active volcano, which was steaming with sulfur. We were accompanied by representatives of the island’s spiritual elders who had a living lineage and connection to that Goddess power no human agency can ever control. One could feel oneself drawn into the crater almost palpable manner, as if one would gladly become a human offering to the Goddess.

The great Gods and Goddesses of geology, of the primal earth energies, were alive and one could sense them, smell them and almost touch them, their energies pervading the physical and the psychic air. These powers were sensitive and aware and could guide us to a deeper consciousness, peace and transcendence, if we could but leave our human identities and compulsions behind.

At that moment, one’s individual life, and the entire human world, seemed rather small and trifling, a brief lull in the midst of greater geological transformations that marked the land. One could sense yet more primeval powers at the origins of creation when the entire universe was a vast erupting ball of fire and great Deities looked over the beautiful inferno of light with timeless eyes, gliding through the currents with a bodiless joy and an unbounded energy that had no end.

Native peoples – to the extent that we still leave them to their original cultures – and the ancient world in general, reflect a sense of the sacred that allows them to honor every plant, animal, land formation, cloud or star. For them life is measured by the sacred time of nature’s rhythms. Every human action requires a prayer and a ritual to make it part of the greater sacred world. Such native cultures have largely been dehumanized and devitalized and are but a shadow of their former selves. But we can still sense the sacred moving in them and their traces on the land.

We continued along the crater’s rim and soon encountered the usual groups of tourists, who went in and out of their cars for a quick view of nature’s wonders. It was an odd sensation. One could still feel the ancient deities and the sacred mystery of the land, but the people one saw missed this altogether, floating in their personal thoughts oblivious that they were at the womb of the great Goddess herself. Of course, they saw the crater with their physical eyes but it was mainly a geological phenomenon or a photo opportunity, a memento of having been to the vacation paradise of the Hawaian islands.

Such modern people, largely divested of the sacred, seemed like shadows, though no doubt all were looking for something sacred to give meaning to their lives. One could sense the anguish of those who worshipped the volcano Goddess to see the sacred body of their mother trampled upon as a tourist curiosity. We did not see anyone else bow down to the Goddess, much less make her an offering, call out to her or hear her voice, though probably it echoed in the minds of many passerbys as a strange and unrecognizable background sound.

Sacred Activism

I don’t think we can really heal our planet or bring peace to society unless we reestablish our link to the sacred universe. This requires not just an ecological or artistic appreciation of nature but a recognition of the awesome consciousness and cataclysmic power that pervades the entire universe, making it into a single dynamic organism that we human beings are but a small part of. Connecting to the sacred is not a matter of a religious belief, joining the right church or having the right religious or spiritual identity. It is not just a matter of taking a few yoga classes, learning a meditation technique or chanting a mantra once in a while. It requires surrendering our human mind to the greater cosmic consciousness and energy, in which we lose our human selves and human identity altogether.

Perhaps the best way to begin this deeper healing is to honor the Divine powers in the world of nature around us. If we live in a land that has had a recent native tradition, we will find that most of the nearby sacred sites in nature are known to them and have been honored by them. We can follow their link. Otherwise we can follow our inner inspiration and look to the deeper consciousness behind the wonders of nature around us, which requires spending contemplative time around them away from the noise of the human world. Nature is our mother, not a commercial commodity to be exploited. She will speak to us if we call out to her, just as no real mother ever abandons her children.

We can awaken the sacred powers in our own environment. This can be done through flowers, aromas, incense, special waters, rocks and plants that abound around us. It will follow the movements of the seasons, the Moon, eclipses or special astrological combinations that connect us to the realm of cosmic and sacred time beyond all mundane chronologies. By making our lives sacred, we can change the world at a root level, and change our society in a way that no mere human institution can ever likely bring about of its own accord.

Above all, we need to honor the Goddess or Divine Mother, whose body is the world of nature. The Goddess is always awake. We are born through her power and at death her force will lead us to her greater reality. It is not a matter of awakening her but of awakening our connection to her, which makes us spiritually awake, which means beyond all manmade and limiting identities and propaganda.

To awaken the Goddess in one’s life, one needs a form. It can be an image or statue of the Goddess, or some natural object like a flower or plant, a special rock, the Moon. There is no formless worship of the Goddess unless it is first rooted in form. And she cannot truly be honored unless she is recognized as the mother of the entire universe.

For a yogic and world transforming spiritual activism, we need to reawaken the divine powers in nature that our spiritual slumber has removed us from. We need to restore the sacred sites of traditional peoples, even if this might involve removing modern buildings that have been erected over them. Our museums are filled with the desecrated and stolen sacred objects of many peoples and many lands. We should at least allow them to be honored, adorned and worshiped.

If we study the existing interpretations of traditional and non-western religions in our educational systems, we find a crude insensitivity that denigrates their sacred forms and practices according to our modern obsessions of sex, economics or politics, turning these doorways to the sacred into forms of ridicule, marks of the primitive, while it is our modern culture that is more truly lacking in sensitivity or higher intelligence to the cosmic forces. We need to reexamine these sacred traditions with respect to their elders, not to our erudition or technology.

Restoring Our Sacred Connection

Let us bring back all the Gods and Goddesses of all lands and countries, all times and all places, and their connection with the land, the waters and the sky as part of our daily life experience. Let us set aside scientific, psychological, and theological interpretations of what words cannot describe in the first place. Let us awaken to the Divine presence at the ground of existence, humble ourselves before it and live according to its grace. Let us be respectful of the Divine nature and beauty of every person, culture and tradition, even more so to those that are close to the land and without a voice in the world media or academia.

Make sure to awaken the Gods and Goddesses in yourself and in your own life, home, garden, family and community. It may be more important to awaken the Divine presence around us than to get out the vote for one cause or another or to make the best possible donation to a worthy cause. While it is good to marshal human resources in a caring direction, without bringing the Divine power of nature into the process, we may just be alienating ourselves further from the true wellsprings of life, creation and happiness. We may be just making another offering to the demon of the human mind and its endless conflicts and assertions.

For this natural awakening no preaching or moralizing, which is a sin against the Divine presence in each person, is necessary or even possible. The only thing that we really need to become cognizant of is the power of transformation inherent in life itself. The entire universe is a temple, starting with our own bodies. All our actions should be rituals or sacred actions. All our thoughts should be prayers and mantras. All our buildings should be temples, including our own homes, where the fire of the sacred should be kept burning bright in one way or another.

So awaken a deity in your life today. You can do it, and if you do it will give your life a meaning that will extend into the entire universe, not just Wall Street, Hollywood or Washington DC. Find what is most sacred in your environment, honor it and call out to it, infuse it with the life of your aspiration. Not only will it come to life – be it a statue, a rock or a plant – but you will come to life as well. You will find that you can truly see, hear, and touch things again as if for the first time. You won’t need the mass media to distract you any more or to entertain your boredom. You won’t need the false temples of shopping malls, sports arenas, or drive in churches. The world of nature will gain a palpable presence that will nourish your inner being with every breath. You will enter into the cosmic waters and begin to swim in its currents, your mind and heart, becoming pure and clear.

The Divine reality is One but this unity has its unique presence in every aspect of nature, in every nuance of every object that we can see or touch. The different Gods and Goddesses of various nature-honoring traditions are not a primitive polytheism but an abundant living experience of the One that is infinite. Unless one experiences the Divine in nature, one cannot experience the Creator or the Absolute beyond time and space. One cannot be saved from the alienation from Divine unity that is the root of all suffering unless one leaves ego and body consciousness to embrace the greater universe. We are lacking in that direct perception of life and existence, which brings the sacred into every moment. If our human self and identity remains at the forefront, the Divine is not there.

Unless we bring back the Gods and Goddesses, a lasting experience of unity at a spiritual level will not be possible. We will be trapped in human ideas, caught in dogmas, institutions, slogans and sentiments, barred from entering into the cosmic reality, not by any act of God but by our own ignorance. So let us become sacred activists, yogic activists, if you will, those whose action is to bring the deities back into the human world and to the world of nature that we have banished them from, so that the human world can go beyond its egoistic boundaries. We need to reawaken the deities not only in our temples but also in our land, air and space, regarding our entire environment as sacred.

If you can help bring one sacred site or sacred form back to life, you will likely to have done more for the world than any amount of outer actions. Of course, we need to continue to act responsibly in the outer world, including voting wisely and using our money with care, but these should be part of a greater sacred endeavor, not its primary factor but its natural consequence. Let the voice of all beings in the universe, its wonderful powers of consciousness, and the voice of the cosmic silence beyond be heard as well as our own human voices, which themselves should be attuned to the cosmic rhythms, not the daily gossip.

Copyright © 2013 American Institute of Vedic Studies. All rights reserved.

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Soma in Yoga and Ayurveda: The Power of Rejuvenation and Immortality by Dr. David Frawley

“Soma in Yoga and Ayurveda weaves together with remarkable clarity rejuvenation of the body, revitalization of the mind, and awakening to the inherent immortality of the Spirit. The book reveals special healing secrets of Soma from the ancient Vedic rishis and yogis reflecting a profound vision and wide range of application that can transform both our individual lives and our collective culture. Vamadeva Shastri has provided one of the most important and original books on Yoga and Ayurveda in recent times that is bound to be studied for decades to come.”

Deepak Chopra, author ?Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New Self

What is the secret of Soma, the legendary mystic drink of immortality, first lauded by India’s ancient Vedic seers? Is Soma a single plant, type of plants, a way of healing, a special intoxicant, or an inner elixir produced by Yoga and meditation?

Going back to the vision of the Vedic seers, David Frawley reveals the secret of Soma for body, mind and spirit, with its profound implications from diet and herbs to pranayama, mantra and meditation. His new analysis of Soma, reflecting forty years of study of Vedic texts, is practical, comprehensive and deeply insightful – so that you can bring the secret power of Soma into all aspects of your life and consciousness, and for the world as a whole.

He follows the yogic approach of Ganapati Muni, the chief disciple of the great Advaitic guru Ramana Maharshi.
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Mind and Consciousness ~ Written by David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva)

Published previously in Light of Consciousness magazine and in the Mountain Path of the Sri Ramanashram, Tiruvannamalai.

What is the nature of the mind? How is it related to our deeper consciousness? And, above all, who are we in our real being? What is our true identity or true Self behind the endless stream of thoughts going on inside us?

These have always been the prime questions that we must ask in order to discover the ultimate meaning and purpose of our existence. They are the basis of the seeking of liberation and Self-realization in the Yoga tradition. In Yoga, the Divine is defined mainly as the essence of consciousness. The yogic spiritual quest is a practice of meditation in order to discover that.

Looking at the Mind

Today, we usually look at the mind according to the approaches of modern psychology. We focus on the subconscious mind, memory and past experiences as the measure of our mental state, the ground out of which our thought and emotion develops. Examination of the mind usually consists of trying to understand our personal history, including uncovering hidden or repressed traumatic experiences that may inhibit our functioning in life. In most of current psychology, the personal mind is our real consciousness and somewhere in it our true self or identity can be found.

Modern science similarly identifies mind and consciousness, equating the faculty of thinking with the power of awareness. It takes us back to the basic Cartesian dictum, “I think therefore I am”. It regards consciousness as primarily self-consciousness, the activity of the personal self as, for example, the ability to recognize ourselves in a mirror, which capacity animals, except possibly for some primates, do not seem to have.

On this basis, modern science identifies consciousness with the mind and the mind with the brain. This identification has resulted seeking to improve our mental and emotional functioning through altering brain chemistry with pharmaceutical preparations. Mainstream science usually does not recognize consciousness as a spiritual or cosmic principle apart from the mind, though some trends in the new physics are beginning to suggest this. It is still a largely physical view of the mind that we find in medicine today.

The yogic view of the mind, however, is very different. It is based on meditation and inner experience, rather than outer experimentation. It tries to understand the mind through introspection or turning our awareness within, rather than by analyzing outer mental patterns. It encourages us to observe the mind rather than follow its reactions. It teaches us to understand the process of perception and how it conditions us, rather than to merely examine our memories.

The Yoga tradition also classifies the mind in a different manner. It defines mind in the broadest sense, what is called chitta in Sanskrit, as all aspects of conditioned consciousness. Under the concept of chitta is included reason, emotion, sensation, memory, the instinctual part of the mind, and the ego; all that we ordinarily consider to possess some degree of consciousness within us. Yet under the concept of chitta is also a higher creativity and intuition beyond the ordinary mind and physical consciousness, which few people may develop in a significant manner. Chitta moreover extends beyond the personal mind, to collective and cosmic aspects of mind. Chitta is mind as a cosmic principle, not simply the human mind.

Mind and Consciousness: Two Different Powers

Even more significantly, Yoga radically distinguishes between mind and consciousness, which it regards as two separate but related powers. Yoga regards consciousness, called Chit as something other than the mind or Chitta. This is very different than modern science but also most of the world’s philosophies, which generally identify mind and consciousness.

The mind is an instrument of thinking and sensing on various levels. Mind is called the ‘inner instrument’ or antahkarana in Sanskrit, related to the body which is our outer instrument. The mind is looked upon as the sixth sense after the five bodily senses and is regarded as an organ, not our true being or the basis of our sense of self.

Chit is pure consciousness unmodified by any mental activity. Chit is awareness of what is called the Purusha, the inner Being, for which the mind is but a tool of perception and expression. Yoga similarly regards mind and brain as different though related. The brain is the physical vehicle for the mind, but not the mind itself.

The Purusha is our inner Self while the mind, we could say, is like our computer and the body is like the car we drive. Mind and body are our internal and external instruments but not our real identity. Just as you are not your computer, so too, your true Self and Being is not the mind. The light that allows the mind to function comes from the Purusha. The mind does not have any light of its own. Your sense of self-being, that you are a unique, whole and continuous center of awareness, derives from the inner consciousness, not form the mind.

Mind and Psychology

How we seek to heal the mind depends upon how we look at the mind. The yogic view of psychology, with its emphasis on consciousness rather than mind as our real being, is also different.

Psychology belongs to the mind and the mind can have psychological diseases and imbalances, just as the body can have physical diseases and imbalances. A person’s psychology reflects the condition of their mind, its tendencies, and qualities. The mind always has a psychology because it is a product of time and outer experiences, which leave their characteristic marks upon it. They are classified in Ayurveda and Yogic psychology according to the gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas), doshas (vata, pitta and kapha), the five elements and other energetic factors.

Our true Self or Purusha, however, does not have a psychology because it is unconditioned consciousness, the witness outside of time and the mind. It is beyond all form and qualities. While the mind has mental activity, the inner Being consists of pure unmodified awareness only, like a mirror. This means that if we can go deeply into our awareness to our inner being and light of consciousness, we can move beyond all psychological suffering. The ultimate yogic solution to psychological problems is to raise our awareness to the inner consciousness beyond the mind and its dualities. Though many outer factors of diet, behavior, the breath and the senses can help, it ultimately requires a revolution in our awareness itself from a mind-based consciousness to pure consciousness itself, from Chitta to Chit.

The Question of Self-knowledge

In Yoga, knowledge alone is said to bring about the liberation of consciousness, specifically self-knowledge or the knowledge of our true nature in the Purusha. When we speak of self-knowledge for the personal mind, we are mainly referring to knowledge of one’s personal history, habits and inclinations. Self-knowledge for the inner Being, however, consists of understanding the essence of awareness beyond thought and personal history. Though our thoughts are constantly changing, our inner Being remains the same.

True Self-knowledge is a matter of Being, not of thought or emotion. It is a state of Being, not of events, experiences or ideas known. Our inner Being has no conceptual content, nor is it conditioned by time and action. It is a state of openness, surrender and presence like a steady thread through all our experiences. Contacting it brings us into a state of peace in which the mind and its psychology are naturally put to rest. To reach our inner Being requires a different orientation of our consciousness, a willingness to let go of our personal history and dive into the great Unknown within.

From the standpoint of the Purusha or true Self, one could say that you cannot know yourself. There is no self or personal history to be known which could define you. From the standpoint of the true Self, you can only be your Self. But in being yourself, you become one with all Being. You come to know all things within yourself, in which the mind becomes but an instrument to be used at will or put to rest.

Our inner Being exists beyond time and space, birth and death, mind and body. Yet it is present within us as the ground of consciousness and present all around us as the ground of Being. To truly know one’s Self is to know that inner Being which is the same in all. In that awareness, the mind becomes quiet and passive and the personal self loses its relevance.

In that inner Reality, the mind loses its importance. This is just as when the Sun is shining, one no longer notices the Moon. The reality is self-evident. Nothing needs to be said, discussed or argued about. And the reality is so vast it can never be described. One merges into the experience only.

Self- Realization

The yogic dictum is “I am that I am”, “I am that which is, that which was and that which will be.” “I am therefore I can think.” Yet this “I” is neither me nor you, nor anyone else. One could say that it is God, but it is not the God of any belief, theology or philosophy. It is the Divine Being that is the being of all. It is the Self of existence, the Self-being that is the ocean of which all creatures and all worlds are but waves. In that Self is the resolution of all our problems, conflicts, stress, anxiety and agitation. When one has gone home to one’s true nature, there are no more issues left to resolve.

Yoga defines its supreme goal of liberation as the realization of the inner Self or Purusha. “Knowing only the Purusha can one go beyond death. There is no other path to transcendence.” So knowledge of the Purusha or inner Being is the most important thing in life, not just a knowledge of our mental and emotional tendencies, however valuable these may be for dealing with psychological diseases.

Unless we know our inner Being, we cannot find lasting peace. Knowledge of our being depends upon being, not upon mental activity. The problem is that instead of seeking to know our inner Being, we get caught in our outer becoming. We run after the mental, emotional or physical self and lose the Being Self within. This process is Samsara or the turning of the wheel of sorrow.

Usually we think of Self-realization as the realization of our hidden personal potentials, some special abilities or talents we might not have yet developed. However, yogic Self-realization is the understanding that our true Self is beyond body and mind, which also means beyond psychology, culture and conditioning. It is the dissolution of the personal, psychological self into the Being Self that is not born and does not die.

True consciousness is not the embodied mind, which is a conditioned consciousness, a mere collection of tendencies and activities from our various births. True consciousness is a universal principle and power like space. It cannot be limited to any body or mind. The mind can at best reflect it, which requires that the mind be still, subtle and sensitive within. We must learn to move from embodied consciousness or mind, to the non-embodied universal consciousness, in which we transcend our personal self to the universal Self. This occurs when we go to the root of the mind and discover the light of awareness that radiates through it.

Mind and Self-realization

For such higher Self-realization, the mind plays a crucial role. The mind can be the instrument for either bondage or liberation, ignorance or enlightenment. If we turn the mind towards the external world as the reality, it becomes a force of attachment and sorrow. If we turn the mind within to the inner Being as the reality, it slows down and comes to reflect that higher reality. The mind becomes a mirror for the light of the Self to shine.

So turning the mind within is the essence of Yoga and meditation. For this the mind must be first brought to a one-pointed state. A fragmented or distracted mind cannot turn within. This inward turning process can be looked upon very simply as immersing the mind in the deeper consciousness of the inner Being that dwells within the heart.

The mind’s knowledge is conceptual or thought based. It results in facts, data, information, ideals, theories, opinions, concepts or formulas. Our inner Being has a higher kind of knowledge, which is radically different from what the mind can know. Our inner being has a special “knowledge by identity’, in which is not colored by thought and its preconceptions.

Through one’s inner Being, one can merge into the inner Being of all that one comes in contact to through the body and senses. For most of us, this is a very difficult condition to imagine. But whenever the mind becomes totally concentrated, it experiences a quantum leap in awareness and a special knowledge arises through the inner unity of the seer and the seen. This inner knowledge through identity is the real yogic knowledge that frees us from all bondage and suffering.

All that the mind knows is simply thought, which is name and form, and but a modification of the mind. True knowledge is knowledge of the Being, which arises through pure consciousness when mental activity comes to rest, when the mind becomes cool, calm and silent.

From Mind to Consciousness

We must learn to move beyond the mind to pure consciousness, which is to return to our true nature, our inner Being. It is to rest in the silence and peace within that no thought, opinion, belief or conclusion can touch. It is to enter into the realm of Being and direct experience, where no words can go, which leaves no outer trace, where one becomes everything and nothing.

The mind is an excellent tool and instrument for consciousness. It has a wonderful capacity for action, expression, memory and coordination of our outer actions. But if we try to understand consciousness through the mind, we fall into spiritual ignorance and confusion. We wrongly identify our true Self and Being with our outer being. However, if we abide in pure consciousness, then the mind has its place to help us function in life. But the mind no longer throws its tendencies and impulses upon us as our real motivation.

Learn to discriminate between mind and consciousness. Learn to witness the mind. Dwell as the seer of the mind and its modifications. This is the Yoga of meditation that empties the mind of its conditioning and allows us to rest in our true nature, to see Reality, and to go beyond death.


David Frawley, otherwise known as Vamadeva Shastri, is a US citizen by birth and a Hindu by conviction. He sees his life work as forming a bridge between these two widely opposing cultures, and he does so with a rare dedication and thoroughness. An acknowledged Vedantin, Frawley is an expert in ayurveda, Vedic astrology, yoga, and tantra , all of which, he says, have their basis in Vedanta. Indeed it is the interdisciplinary approach to Vedanta that he sees as his particular contribution in demystifying eastern spirituality. Frawley has written a number of books on all these disciplines, including Yoga and Vedanta, and Ayurveda and the Mind. His latest books include Vedantic Meditation, and Yoga for your Type.

Frawley speaks out ardently in favor of India finding its own dharmic solutions rather than borrowing western concepts. He has written many books on the subject including Hinduism and the Clash of Civilisation, and The Myth of the Aryan Invasion. He sees modern civilization as doomed and envisages the dawn of a planetary culture linked by consciousness. Eastern values have a key role to play in fashioning this new culture, he says. Frawley is associated with the Naimisha Research Institute for Vedic Studies in Bangalore, India, and is the founder-director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Sante Fe, New Mexico, USA.

Interview with David Frawley

Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is a unusual western born knowledge-holder in the Vedic tradition. He carries many special Vedic ways of knowledge (vidyas), which he passes on to students in India and in the West. In India, Vamadeva is recognized not only as a Vedacharya (Vedic teacher), but also as a Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor and teacher), Jyotishi (Vedic astrologer), Puranic (Vedic historian), a Hindu acharya (Hindu religious teacher) and a Raja Yogi.
In India, Vamadeva’s translations and interpretations of the ancient Vedic teachings have been given great acclaim in both spiritual and scholarly circles. In America he is known as a teacher and practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine and of Vedic astrology (Jyotish) and has done pioneering work on both these subjects in the West. Most recently the integration of Yoga and Ayurveda has come to the forefront of his work.

Pandit Vamadeva (Dr. Frawley) presents authentic Vedic knowledge in the Western world and in a lucid presentation recognized by the tradition itself. He has worked extensively teaching, writing, lecturing, conducting research and helping establish schools and associations in related Vedic fields over the last thirty years. He has studied and traveled widely gathering knowledge, working with various Vedic teachers and groups in a non-sectarian manner.
Vamadeva sees his role as helping to revive Vedic knowledge in an interdisciplinary approach for the planetary age. He sees himself as a teacher and translator to help empower people to use Vedic systems to enhance their lives and aid in their own Self-realization. He sees Vedic wisdom as a tool for liberation of the spirit, not as a dogma to bind people or to take power over them. For him, Vedic knowledge is a means of communing with the conscious universe and learning to embody it in our own life and perception.

Though Vamadeva has worked in several different fields, he has endeavored to approach each of these with a great deal of specificity and precision, providing both the background philosophy and deeper practices. For a good overview of his work and background, it is best to examine his book Yoga and the Sacred Fire: Self-Healing and Planetary Transformation (2005).

Dr David Frawley speaks at Punarnava Ayurveda’s International Ayurveda & Yoga

At the 2nd International Ayurveda & Yoga conference in Rishikesh, India. Ayurveda – A complete yogic system of medicine by Dr David Frawley.

Where he also shares insights and in-depth experiences of these two Ancient Indian Knowledge Systems.

There will also be Yoga and Meditation sessions led by senior teachers, to enable us to open the heart, expand the consciousness and become more receptive to the wisdom.

Relating to Spiritual Experiences – Written by David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva)

If we take up any form of higher Yoga practice, pranayama, mantra or meditation, we are likely to have various experiences, some of which may be quite dramatic. These experiences may be spiritual,
psychological or even physical in nature or some combination thereof. Most of these experiences are likely to be exhilarating and elevating, but some may prove disturbing or agitating. Sometimes an exhilarating experience may turn disturbing for us, or what began as a disturbing experience may end up providing us wisdom or peace.

Some of these experiences may change our lives forever. Others may fade away after a short period of time and leave no trace. Generally our first spiritual experiences, like our first romances, may be exaggerated. Later on as we have more spiritual experiences, we will tend to take them more as a natural part of our lives.

The range of potential yogic experiences is vast and many sided. It is important to have a sense of what this is, so that we learn how to handle our experiences properly. In addition, it is not enough to seek experiences. We must prepare ourselves to have them, so that when they do arise, we are reader to hold their energy. Developing a higher consciousness is not a mere casual matter, hobby or another outer pursuit. It requires discipline, dedication and an inner orientation of the life. In the following article, we will examine the nature of spiritual experiences and examine how we can best relate with them.

The Beauty of Spiritual Experiences

Spiritual experiences can deepen and enrich our lives in many ways. They are largely to be welcomed as part of the beauty and abundance of the spiritual life. Just as the cultivation of an artistic lifestyle will naturally result in the development of artistic skills and perceptions, unfolding the vast realm of art appreciation, so too, the cultivation of the spiritual life still will unfold the vast realm of cosmic consciousness and an appreciation of the bliss that pervades all things in the universe. To develop a life enhanced by ongoing spiritual experiences, with an ability to relate to the universe as a whole at the level of the heart, is one of the main reasons that we take to such practices in the first place.

If we persist in our yogic practices, over time our inner flow of spiritual experiences will become more vivid and important than our outer sensory and worldly experiences. We will develop our own vast inner life and inner world beyond the stress and sorrow, the ups and downs of our outer existence. We will gain a capacity to directly experience reality, the universe and the depths of consciousness spontaneously and immediately at every moment, without having to rely on any external equipment or outer mediators. We will no longer need any external forms of entertainment or stimulation to distract us. Even when there may be nothing happening around us, we will experience a fullness and a depth that will create contentment and peace within.

The Yoga Shakti and the Energy of Experience

Spiritual experiences are not isolated events but the result of an inner energy. The energy that sets the stream of inner experience in motion and sustains it is the Yoga Shakti or ‘power of Yoga’. Once that inner electricity is turned on, we will be able to access higher forms of perception, stronger forms of prana, deep feeling and direct knowing that are otherwise hard to reach for the ordinary human mind.

In the long run, holding to a continuous flow of experience will become more important than the details of any single experience. We may eventually merge into that flow of the Yoga Shakti and let go of all experiences, like a flowing river that reaches the sea and no longer has any banks to recognize. Gaining the power of direct experience is real goal of all the experiences that may happen to us. Such a capacity for direct experience is more than any particular experience and how it affects us.

Samadhi

Yoga in the higher sense is the development of Samadhi or the ‘absorbed state of mind’, in which the mind becomes one with its object of attention. If we practice yogic meditation, we will naturally develop some states of Samadhi. Most of what are called spiritual experiences are Samadhi experiences, though not all are the result of a conscious practice or preparation.

Yet there are many types of Samadhi. Samadhi is a function of the mind on all levels. We are all seeking some Samadhi or peak experience of the mind, heart and senses. In this regard, there are both yogic and non-yogic samadhis. Even sleep or drug induced trances are lower or non-yogic Samadhis. Mixed Samadhis are common among yoga aspirants, in which some inner vision gets mixed with the conditioning of the mind. Without the proper training, such Samadhi experiences, even when genuine, can disturb people or inflate the ego.

Traditional Yoga classifies different types of Samadhis, some of which it regards as illusory, misleading or dangerous. It particularly warns us to avoid using any siddhis or powers that arise from Samadhi for our own personal ends, especially those that involve harming others. It asks us to pursue the Samadhis that involve control of the mind and the understanding of our deeper Self.

There is a tendency for those who first come into a Samadhi state to think that they have gained the highest state. We must remember that there are many levels of consciousness between the ordinary human state of physical and ego based reality to the highest level of Self-realization. Not every altered state of consciousness is a better state, nor is every higher state than the ordinary human state a condition of full light or complete understanding. The realm of spiritual experience contains a great range of illusions or fantasies that we can fall into, particularly if we are unaware of such possibilities.

There are many inner realms of experience, levels of the astral plane or higher formless realms, each with its own type of world, creature and perception that can be very different. One can move beyond our personal and social conditioned consciousness to the greater consciousness in nature, our broader earth environment, the atmosphere and into the cosmic realms. This is a great adventure but can have its pitfalls or detours as well, just as seeking to climb a high mountain or explore a deep cave has its challenges!

Not all of our imagined spiritual experiences may be truly spiritual. Some may be mixed up with mental, emotional or even physical urges, changes or imbalances. Some may be misleading or simply self-projected. All of us are likely to have such questionable experiences, just as we are likely to have those that are genuine, particularly in this age of media hype that predisposes us to fantasy.

Different Types of Experiences

It is important to note the different types of experiences that we may have and how they affect us, starting at a physical level. We may experience different sensations or currents within the body itself. Spontaneous movements or yoga kriyas may arise that may cause us to perform a certain yoga posture or breathe in a certain manner. The body may feel light, clear or even filled with light or space. Sometimes we may experience tremors, feelings of ungroundedness, or loss of physical coordination for a time. Such physical experiences need to be gauged relative to the condition of our body and nervous system overall.

We may experience changes in our sensory functions. Our seeing or hearing, for example, may become more acute or our sense of touch may become particularly sensitive. Other times our senses may fade and our attention may draw us to supersensory experiences. Or we may relate to our senses differently, seeing forms or the space between objects that we did not notice before. We may become entranced with certain forms, colors, textures, leaves or flowers that others might not notice at all.

We may experience unusual or radical changes in our emotional nature. A wave of bliss may descend upon us making us feel ecstatic for no apparent outer reason. We may feel great compassion for the sufferings of other creatures. Powerful devotion to the deity or guru may arise. Yet less wholesome emotions can also occur. We may feel afraid of losing ourselves or our identity. A fear of death may arise as we contemplate eternity. Sometimes ordinary emotions like anger or desire may get heightened or we may uncharacteristically become impatient or intolerant .

The mind may have new and different experiences and perceptions. We may feel our minds expanding or ascending. Light or sound vibrations may come into the mind. New insights may arise or a new creativity may dawn. There may be hints of extrasensory perception or telepathy, or a sense of what will happen to us or to the world tomorrow.

We may experience changes in our sense of self. We may feel connections with past lives, that we were a great yogi or that we are a great teacher with an important mission in life. Our self-identity may change and we may want to look or dress differently than before. We may be able to let go of our past and gain a new sense of who we are. We may move beyond the human ego to the sense of the cosmic Self.

We may gain an inner experience of the various chakras or centers of yogic energy, particularly the third eye, the heart or the crown chakra. We may be able to feel the energy moving in the spine or up and down it, along with various lights and sounds, colors or energy patterns. These are usually part of a broader range of what are called ‘Kundalini experiences’ that many people have, though one should note that what is popularly called a Kundalini experience may not always be so!

Experiences of the Astral Plane

Our subtle or astral body may become activated. We may be able to travel with it to other beings, or travel to other realms of consciousness or higher worlds. We may astrally ability to visit with teachers or deities may appear to our inner eye. We may be able to talk to God or to the Divine Mother. New teachings or inspired revelations may come to us.

Many spiritual experiences occur in dreams or in dream like states of consciousness. Besides our ordinary dreams based upon memory and sensory experiences, there is a higher form of dreams that reflect a deeper vision and experience beyond the physical realm. We may be having such deeper visionary dreams but not remember them well. There are other dreams which are astral experiences, which can be either enlightening or confusing for us, depending upon their nature.

Some experiences involve a heightened state of imagination or vision. We may see a deity, guru, angel or spirit with our inner eye. Yet knowing if these visions are genuine or self-induced is not always easy. Higher spiritual experiences usually involve some heightened perception and have a distinct clarity and calm about them. They are not always dramatic visions or visitations.

We must learn to differentiate between higher spiritual experiences and those of the spirit or astral world, though these can overlap to some degree. Drawing in departed spirits or ghosts, or bringing in animal spirits can have side effects. Studying the occult or subtle worlds can be different than yogic practices aimed at Self-realization. It is important to be able to distinguish between the two and not confuse them. Occult and astral experiences are not always higher yogic experiences and can confuse rather than enlighten us, if we are not careful.

Channeling also must be approached with caution. There are spirits that would like to enter into the human being, who may masquerade as higher beings to come into us. We should not offer our minds and hearts for other beings to dwell in, unless we are truly convinced of their spiritual nature. It is important that we do not give up our consciousness or witnessing capacity in the process of communicating with any spirit.

Preparing Ourselves for Experiences

We should prepare ourselves for spiritual experiences before seeking them. True spiritual experiences are a kind of nectar that is coming to us. It is important that we have the proper container to hold that nectar and that the vessel be clean, pure and not contaminated in any way. That vessel is our own body, prana and mind. It is not just enough to have an experience. We must learn to imbibe its essence, just as a bee gathers pollen from a flower.

We should cultivate sattvic life-style as the basis for our experiences. This means avoiding aggression and emotional agitation within us. A sattvic life style will help ground our experiences. A vegetarian diet is a good aid for a pure mind and clear experiences. Our experiences should center on offering our ego to the Divine presence within, not on glorifying ourselves or gaining power over others.

We should develop a sacred space both within us and in our own home environment in which our spiritual experiences, the events in our spiritual life, can be honored, nurtured and cherished. If we have a good vessel, the experiences will come and we will be able to move through them. If our vessel is contaminated or broken, even the best experiences will not be able to really enter into us. If our vessel is prepared, we may experience a deepening peace and bliss without needing more dramatic experiences to keep us on the path.

Keeping Track of Our Experiences

Probably the first thing to do is to take time to assimilate your experience. Let it settle in of its own accord. Keep it to yourself for a while, sharing it only with your guru or other practitioners. Give space for your experience to reveal what it is. Do not try to judge it or own it immediately.

We should cultivate a detached observation of our own experiences. In this regard, it is helpful to make a record of your experience in terms of time, place and details. Write it down. Try to note the factors which may induce or accompany your experience.

Note your physical and psychological condition at the time of your experience. Is your experience connected to fasting or low food intake, with lack of sleep or other abnormal physical patterns? Have you been taking any drugs, recreational or medical, that might be involved in the experience? What was your emotional state? Had you been experience any unusual stress or emotional disturbances that might color your experience?

Note that practices that may have helped set your experience in motion. Is your experience arising from pranayama, if so what type of pranayama and practiced for how long? Is it the result of repeating a mantra? If so, what type of mantra and to what deity or guru? Has it occurred as part of a meditation practice? Have you done any intense or new practice prior to the experience or is it the result of long term steady practices? Experiences from long term practices are likely to be more wholesome than those from short term but irregular intensive efforts.

Spiritual experiences are more likely to occur in the presence of a guru, but even here we must be cautious. The mass energy around a teacher may cause us to have an experience around them, even if they are not our true teacher. Holy sites, temples and powerful places in nature are also more likely to give us experiences. Pilgrimage is well known for giving experiences, particularly those like visiting Mt. Kailas in Tibet that require a good deal of exertion to get there. There are practices like vision quests, or seeking the darshan (vision) of the deity, that aim at producing experiences. These also have their place and require a certain dedication and sincerity to achieve.

A few other tips: Do not run after any experiences. The mind can induce whatever experience it likes. Let your experience arise out of the receptive and surrendered mind and heart. Do not try to repeat an experience; it only makes you live in the past. Once you have had a spiritual experience there is a temptation to try to repeat it. It is best to let it settle down. True spiritual experience is ever new.

We should look into our spiritual experiences for what they are teaching us. Inner experiences usually have a message behind them. They may be offering us a taste of what we can gain in fuller form if we persist in our practices. They may be asking us to make some change in our lives or our practice. We must learn to read their language and their symbolism, not simply regard the experience as an end in itself.

Emotional highs are usually accompanied with or followed by emotional lows. One must be careful with confusing emotional highs even colored by spiritual forms or images with spiritual experiences. Yet even with genuine spiritual experiences, there can be a down side. In mystical literature, there is a talk of the dark night of the soul and of dry periods in one’s practice. Don’t expect to always be in state of deeper experiences or emotional highs. Learn to preserve your inner contentment even when you are facing adversity.

The Role of the Guru and Deity in Experiences

If we have experiences, it is good to consult about them with a teacher or with friends and colleagues on the path. A true guru will help us understand our experiences. If the teacher is not physically accessible to us, we can call upon them inwardly to help deal with our experiences.

It helps on the yogic path to have an Ishta Devata or chosen form of the Divine to worship, usually some aspect of the Divine Father or Mother. We should seek to connect with them in our experiences. The path of Bhakti Yoga or devotion often revolves around spiritual experiences of the deity through mantra, chanting, pilgrimage and meditation.

It is helpful to have special protective mantras that we can use to help us through any difficult experiences that we may have. Mantras to the Ishta Devata or to the guru are very important.

Ayurveda and Vedic Astrology

If possible, consult a good Ayurvedic practitioner who is familiar with yogic experiences and can provide guidance if your experiences are troubling. Disturbances in the Doshas, particularly Vata or the air humor, can cause unusual experiences in the mind and nervous system that may be mistaken for spiritual experiences. These may involve nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, tremors or unusual pranic movements of an uncontrolled nature. An Ayurvedic practitioner can prescribe herbs, diet, massage and life-style changes that can help us ground our experiences better.

Vedic astrology can be very helpful in showing the nature of our experiences. There are certain planetary influences and planetary periods that can promote inner experiences. Influences involving Rahu, the north node of the Moon, for example, are more likely to be illusory. Those involving the lords of the fifth and ninth house, particularly when Jupiter, are likely to be more wholesome. There is an entire set of Vedic astrological rules that can be helpful in understanding our spiritual experiences and where these are likely to take us. Vedic astrology can also recommend mantras, gems and rituals that can help make our spiritual experiences more wholesome, or even give us spiritual experiences of an astrological nature. A good Vedic astrologer can help you with these.

Besides Experience

Experiences are not the only measure or manifestation of the spiritual life. Experiences, particularly of a dramatic form, are not always necessary on the yogic path, particularly when Jnana Yoga or the Yoga of meditation is emphasized. The type of experiences one is likely to get are a deeper perception, more powerful intuition, a sense of the expansion of consciousness or a greater power of focus and concentration.

Perhaps the best sign of real progress along the yogic path is equanimity, peace of mind and steadiness of awareness. Consistency in practice even if we don’t have any experiences is important. If we give up our practices after an experience, often that experience will not bear fruit.

Experience and Detachment

It is hard to be detached from any powerful life experience, much less a spiritual experience. Spiritual experiences also leave their rasa or effect upon the mind which can be valuable to sustain. Still we should not cling to them. We should learn to view them like the vistas that unfold when we are climbing a beautiful mountain and continue on with our journey until we reach the summit. Never let the experience be more than one’s inner calm or peace.

If you are practicing yoga with a spiritual intent, experiences will occur as part of your daily life. Learn to embrace these as part of life like a beautiful sunset. Let these experiences be natural.

Actually our entire lives are a spiritual experience. Anything that we experience with grace, devotion or awareness is a spiritual experience, even our daily activities. We should make all our experiences into spiritual experiences by learning to see the Divine delight in the entire play of creation, honoring the Divine presence in our own hearts and in the hearts of all creatures.

Towards a New Dharmic Vision of Humanity – Written by David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva)


The Meaning of Dharma

Dharma is perhaps the key term for the great spiritual traditions of India and East Asia, Hindu and Buddhist, whether relative to their understanding of the outer world of nature or the inner realm of consciousness. It is the basis of India’s vast and diverse culture and its deep commitment to Yoga and meditation as tools of self-realization for all. A respect for Dharma is said to be more important even than a belief in God, because it implies certain values and a way of life that promotes truth, unity and respect for all life above ideas or emotions.

Dharma in Sanskrit comes from the root ‘dhri’ meaning ‘to uphold’ and is symbolized by a pillar. It refers to the spiritual, ethical and natural principles that uphold the entire universe. Dharma has always been linked to Veda or vidya, which refers to an inner capacity to perceive the nature of things. It reflects a higher awareness pervades and underlies all existence.

Dharma is a very difficult term to define and eventually must be understood in its own right. To provide a basis for this, we could say that Dharma indicates both the nature of reality at a universal level as well as the proper place for each thing in the universe according to its particular qualities and capacities. There is a specific dharma relative to each creature and every aspect of nature, as well as to the whole of existence. Dharma indicates the harmony both of the totality and the individual, which are complementary and interdependent. According to a dharmic view, the entire universe is present in each object and in every creature, which in some way embody or express the totality.

There is a dharma or natural way of working behind the great forces of nature, the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether, the seasons, the three worlds as earth, atmosphere and the heavens, and the different aspects of the cosmos as matter, energy, and light, which follow interrelated laws and patterns. There is a dharma or unique quality and energy in every plant and animal which serves to make it what it is. Everything has its place in the Dharma, which reflects its role in the cosmic order. And there is a special dharma or role on Earth for the human being, which is to seek to embody a higher truth and work to promote a higher consciousness in the world. The universe is an organically connected vibratory field in which all things are linked together into a greater network of harmony, beauty and vitality. This is the universal ‘web of dharma’.

There is dharma or way of right action relative to all aspects of human life and culture: a dharma of art, a dharma of business, a dharma of communication, a dharma of relationship, a dharma of science, a dharma of religion, and so on – each of which requires its own examination. What is done according to dharma is performed with grace, intelligence and respect for the natural order. Each different domain of our lives has certain principles and practices necessary to unfold its full potential, which constitute its dharma. If we follow the dharma in what we do, we will not only be successful, but will act so in a way that promotes the well-being of all.

We have our own individual or ‘svadharma’ that reflects our capacities and aspirations in life. Yet this is not something that divides us from others. Each person has similar potentials that we must honor.

The Social Dharma

Relative to society, the term Dharma is used in a special way as indicating the right way for society and its members to operate in harmony with their natures, with the environment and with the universe as a whole. This is what we could call the ‘social Dharma’. For social well being, there must be a proper understanding and implementation of Dharma on all levels.

In Vedic thought, human society is looked upon like the human body as a single organism with different limbs, organs and functions, which all serve the benefit of the whole. The social organism is one in essence, but the role of different individuals, communities or professions must vary in order to fulfill the diverse and specialized needs of the whole. Such social differences should not become a matter of high and low or good and bad, but an organic necessity in which each particular role is vital, just as each organ of the human body has an important and irreplaceable role in the well-being of the entire body. We cannot forget society’s connection with the Earth and nature, if we want society to be healthy, harmonious and without violence.

There are special principles of Dharma or right living for society, nations and communities, including special guidelines for men and women, the young and the old, for different professions and for different stages of life. There is an organic order to life, even at a social level, as there is in how our body functions.

However, Dharma also requires that our outer actions and life-styles change along with changing times and cultures. Dharma does not consist of rigid rules that can be blindly applied to all circumstances, but of guiding principles that require adaptation according to the differing needs of time, place and culture. The social Dharma cannot become rigid or the social organism will decline. This means that the vision of Dharma is more important than any specific formulation of dharma in a particular book or by a single person, though we should not discountenance the value of the dharmic wisdom from the past.

Today we need a new social dharma that can integrate what is best in science and technology while restoring our deeper connection with both Nature and the Spirit, such as the great seers of India maintained.

Dharma and Human Rights

Western political thought and modern democracies in general are based upon the idea of “human rights”, which are primarily defined on an individual basis, according to political ideals of freedom, equal opportunity, and justice for each person. These democratic principles have helped protect the individual, reducing oppression and discrimination on various levels within the society relative to race, ethnicity, gender, class, occupation, or other social affiliations.

Yet, on the negative side, an over fixation on “individual rights” encourages a mere outer freedom to do what one wants that can make people more aggressive and acquisitive, lacking an inner dimension of spiritual search. Outer freedom without a corresponding inner aspiration can become a license for the ego to do what it wishes, even if it causes eventual harm to others or to the environment. It often becomes a hectic pursuit of the material world, a running after the external allures of Maya.

The American Declaration of Independence is a very interesting document in this regard. It is based upon the three principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as the inalienable rights of man. Life and liberty are our inalienable rights to be sure, but the “pursuit of happiness” taken only at an outer level easily promotes an external seeking of enjoyment, pleasure and power. What you pursue or run after usually runs away from you! This pursuit of happiness or desire has given rise to the current commercial society that in many ways is becoming increasingly vulgar and destructive. Each individual tends to seek his or her rights, which easily lends itself to self-promotion over the greater good of all.

Dharma, on the other hand, teaches us that life, liberty and happiness are our inherent nature and can be found within ourselves, without the need for external seeking or accumulation of possessions. Dharma promotes freedom from any sort of outer dependency. This includes freedom from commercial exploitation and an inner orientation to life, which implies a spiritual search. Our role in life is not simply to gain what is due to us, as if the universe owed us a favor, but to help in the well-being of the world as a whole, which is part of our own greater nature. Our place in life is not simply to take, as if we existed in isolation, but to give, reflecting our relationship with the whole and the wholeness of who we really are.

Dharma and Duty

Dharma indicates duty, obligation, and responsibility as well as rights and freedom. Rights can never exist without corresponding duties and obligations. Unless rights and duties are balanced, the society itself will become imbalanced and disturbed. Each one of us no doubt has our individual place in the universe that must be honored and a destiny of our own to be fulfilled, but we must also respect the universe upon which we depend and realize that our well being can never be secured at the cost of that of others.

In this regard, Dharma is connected to the idea of giving, offering and sacrifice –what Vedic teachings call yajna. Yajna is symbolized by a fire sacrifice. Fire can only burn if given an offering of the proper fuel. Our place in life is to make the proper offering so that the universal fire of Dharma can illuminate both ourselves and the world around us. Ultimately, we must ourselves become an offering for all, rather than holding to our personal existence or private property as final.

Yajna says that our lives should consist of worship and honoring, including relative the Divine, our ancestors, other living creatures, all human beings, and the spiritual heritage of the entire human race. If each one of us acts for the good of all, we will all certainly flourish. If we act only for the good of ourselves, our family or our particular community, we will breed long term division, inequality and violence.

Broader Human and Universal Rights

According to the principles of Dharma, it is not only individuals that have rights but all aspects of the social organism and the world of nature as a whole. Families have rights, as do communities, including the right not to be interfered with or to be broken up. Cultures have rights not to be denigrated or exploited, even in the name of progress. Today in the name of individual human rights many traditional communities and cultures are being devalued and denigrated, if not eliminated, often paving the way for commercial exploitation.

The non-human world also has its rights. Animals have the right to live without human interference or exploitation and to have their natural space to move freely. Plants do so as well, as the plant also has consciousness and feeling. The world of nature does not exist solely for our own personal advantage as human beings. Each creature has its own existence that we must honor. Ecosystems also have a right to remain as they are and evolve according to their own energies, without being turned merely into human habitations or recreation sites.

When human rights do not respect the rights of other creatures, they invariably lead to conflict and problems in human society as well in the world of nature. The greater life organism of the biosphere gets damaged, which means that human beings will also not have a harmonious natural environment that can provide for health and well-being. This is what we are seeing today in which our environment has been damaged by making human needs, desires and profits predominate over the natural rights of other creatures and the sanctity of the Earth itself – in which we are failing in our duty to the universe in the blind pursuit of personal enjoyment.

Dharmic Pluralism

Dharma reflects a pluralistic view of life which honors unity in multiplicity. It recognizes that there is a diversity of human beings, with each individual being unique in one way or another. There cannot be one job all for all, one medicine for all, or even one religion or spiritual path for all.

Therefore, there should be a corresponding diversity in society in terms of culture, philosophy, art and spirituality so that each person or group has something that their particular Dharma can relate to and find fulfillment in. According to Dharma, unity lies not in uniformity of name, form or action but in the inner freedom that allows the individual to move through and beyond all outer forms to the inner essence that is one with all.

Dharma and Relativism

Dharma holds that we must look at each individual and circumstance according the particular situations, energies and capacities involved. For this reason, a Dharmic approach remains flexible and does not seek to impose any absolutes or rigid rules upon humanity. For example, if you are driving down a road you cannot follow a rigid set of rules or formulas; you have to actually see the movement of traffic moment by moment. Similarly, Dharma rests upon perception more so than any doctrine.

Yet Dharma is far removed from an ‘anything goes’ attitude or a mere moral relativism. Dharma says that there is a right and appropriate way to do each thing, whether it is right way to eat, a right way to breathe, or a right and respectful way to organize our societies, reflecting individual circumstances as well as the broader principles existence. This way of right action cannot be reduced to a fixed pattern but is not without enduring principles either. Dharma requires consciousness in its application and cannot be turned into a standardized creed or mechanical set of rules.

Dharma and Secularism

Dharma does not imply a rule of religion over life or society. Dharma and secularism, the idea that church and state should be separate, share certain attitudes, values and concerns. Dharma holds that a government should not be used to promote one religious belief or another. It holds to freedom of religion and says that the individual should have the freedom to pursue their own Dharma in life, free of control by the state or by any external institution.

Yet Dharma is different from secularism in certain ways as well. Dharma regards all life as sacred and so cannot accept a merely commercial view of life, which is the tendency of so-called modern secular cultures. Dharma says that we must respect the sacred aspect of human life and try to make our social actions into something respectful of the greater universe. Dharma can project a spiritual vision without violating the principle of individual freedom. This is because it sees the spiritual path as a matter of individual practice, an expression of freedom, not something enforced from the outside.

Dharma and Religion

Religion is often translated as Dharma in Indian thought today. This reflects another side of its meaning. Dharma like religion states that we should recognize the universal and the eternal and base our human culture on a spiritual goal or higher consciousness. However, Dharma cannot be reduced to one particular religion, book, teacher, revelation or another. Dharma is not based upon belief and does not seek to spread, much less impose, a single belief upon all humanity. Dharma accepts freedom of religion as well as a freedom of the individual not to follow any religion at all. Above all, it places individual spiritual practice over any overt religious institutionalism.

Dharma places the need to act for the good of all above any religious labels or differences. Dharma says it is what we do that matters, not what we call ourselves, and that truth ultimately transcends all names and boundaries. Dharma says that the supreme truth is impersonal, apaurusheya, and cannot be reduced to a human formulation or representative that all must follow, however helpful these may be for certain groups or individuals.

Yet a dharmic approach does recognize that different individuals, groups and communities may want to follow different spiritual and religious paths – which need not all be the same – and which may have their own respective practices, formulations and values. Dharma accepts pluralism in religion as in all of life, including the freedom of individuals to differ and disagree on matters of religion, as long as they do not turn these differences into a pretext for conflict and violence.

At a higher level, Dharma embraces Yoga as its Moksha Dharma or teaching about the liberation of the soul, which is a matter of sadhana or inner spiritual practice through the science and art of meditation.

Dharmic Values and Ethics

Dharma rests upon certain clearly defined universal values and ethics. These are not simply dictates, laws or commandments but a recognition of how life works and how we can attune ourselves to the consciousness of the greater universe. Such dharmic values are perhaps most simply defined in the basic principles behind Yoga practice of non-violence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), self-control (Brahmacharya), non-stealing (asteya) and non-acquisitiveness (aparigraha).

There is no living being that wants to be hurt. We ourselves do not want to be hurt, so honoring the universal dharma, the universal culture as it were, we do not seek to harm anyone. Similarly, we do not want to be deceived. There is no creature that wants to be deceived, so honoring the universal dharma we tell the truth. Dharmic ethics therefore are a matter of universal courtesy, as it were, not only towards others but also towards ourselves. Without such dharmic ethics we cannot have access to the cosmic mind or the greater civilization of the universe, which is one of consciousness, not merely of science and technology.

Towards a New Dharmic Movement

Today humanity is suffering from a global crisis, which is not simply a lack of resources but a crisis of values. Today we must learn to coexist and pluralism, not only at a political level but also at cultural and religious levels, is essential. We cannot survive as a planet by promoting national, cultural or religious boundaries as final, as that is to deny the greater unity and value of humanity as a whole. A new vision of Dharma can help us in this direction because Dharma does not divide human beings up into opposing camps. It says we are all of one family and must all eventually come to the same truth and self-realization, albeit according to our own path and in our own time and manner.

Great modern teachers from India like Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Dayananda (of the Arya Samaj) and Swami Vivekananda, and many others from all over the world have looked into and provided their insights about creating a new social order or Dharma. Many Buddhist teachers, like the Dalai Lama are also promoting a greater dharma for humanity.

Ultimately, there needs to be a new renaissance in dharmic thinking. This implies a great deal of questioning, deep thought and profound meditation – an endeavor that may take decades to come to real fruition. It must rest upon an uncompromising pursuit of truth, not simply an attempt at social accommodation, appeasement or pleasing everyone. A new dharmic order is not a simple matter of a new political party but an infusion of higher values into our social interactions, which means a new approach to politics that considers not only the outer human being but the inner essence of the soul.

Unfortunately, the political world today tends to rely upon slogans, vote banks and appeals to mass fears and desires, looking forward only to the next election. The personality of the political leader is made more important than any deeper vision for humanity. Political parties today are lacking in any real idealism and vision and quickly compromise in order to gain power or influence. Even modern education is imed at training a person more in a particular technical profession, rather than providing a well rounded education that includes an examination as to what is the ultimate meaning of life. Clearly Dharma must be brought back into education and into social service for it to affect society as a whole.

A new world order defined by Dharma – not simply by religion, politics, or commercial concerns – is crucial for our way forward as a species and can help promote and preserve the good in all. It is important that a regard for the universal Dharma is brought into both our personal lives and into our societies. Otherwise our civilization may continue to flounder and is unlikely to find peace or harmony with life. This is a matter first of all of upholding Dharmic principles and practices in how we live and think. The work begins with each one of us.

Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound by David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva)

Secrets of Bija (Seed) Mantras Foreword by Thomas Ashley-Farrand

Perhaps the most detailed book available on the yogic meaning of the prime seed mantras and letters of the Sanskrit alphabet along with their application for body, mind and spirit. Unfolds secrets of how to use mantra with pranayama and many esoteric meditation practices. Examines the usage of mantras in all the main branches of Yoga (Hatha, Raja, Bhakti, Jnana), Tantra, Veda, Ayurveda, Jyotish and Vastu, as well as relative to Kundalini and the chakras and major Hindu deities. An excellent reference guide for years to come.

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