2005 February

Unity in religious diversity
Rose quartz
The science of death
Nature of the soul
Shriram Sharma Acharya
Book review: at the Eleventh Hour
Symbolism of Kumkum
Guidelines to inspired living
Reader's Contributions

Selected Articles

by Swami Shankarananda

Man, due to his limitations, has called me Tsunami. Yet, I am beyond this name. I come from anger and rage with shame, for man’s bad habits and attitudes have reached great altitudes. Every wasted article has been pumped and dumped into me, human and chemical. How much longer must I hold the taste? All my inhabitants complain. Some have become extinct. Before they were all gone, I decided to do my bit. After consultation with my friends, fire and wind, we decided to dance our destruction. What you have seen is just a little of what might happen if we decide to dance again.

Nothing can withstand our terror. Man only knows how to produce waste. All his ammunition cannot stop us. We can reach heights many times greater. What you have seen is just a fraction of our power. I say to you, Man: start praying today and live righteously. Share this planet with all creatures, no matter how great or small - they are all natures’ creations. I am coming again soon. Be ready for the worst ever seen. Now, considering what I have said, will you still call me Tsunami? I am addressed as Tsunami Disaster. Man, you are the disaster, not me. I am only showing you where you have failed. I promise you once more, I will come again. Nothing you invent can stop me if you don’t change.

Change to love every creature; change to stop wars; change to live simply. I am bigger than Tsunami.

Unity in Religious Diversity
by Mahavishnu

Among the basic human rights, the right to follow one’s conscience in matters of religion and belief is undoubtedly the most cherished. So much so, that people have been willing to endure the severest trials, and even lay down their lives, rather than surrender this fundamental right.

The core of religion has been undermined by ruthless violators who are strange indeed - most often those who consider themselves faithful followers of a religion. Their willingness to trample on the rights of those who believe differently is audacious.

Many leave their natal religious and belief systems in search of deeper fulfilment, but what is the real value of exchanging your belief system for another, if you are still caught up in a fear-based reality, and still have your power placed in external sources? What needs to be made luminous is that God resides in citadels within each of us - He is that innate power that gives us strength in times of adversity. It is futile to dismiss your religion without a positive attempt to realise its truest wisdom.

The spirit of all religions is one. They share the same common values. They share a common concern for the universal welfare of all beings, and an acceptance of the innate sacredness of all life. Yet, throughout the ages, more battles have been fought and more blood spilled upon the earth in the name of religion than for any other cause. Dabbling in spiritual matters doesn’t necessarily mean that our soul will take notice of us and merge with us. Commit to the spiritual path and demonstrate true devotion to the path of spiritual evolution, and this will interest the soul.

Does it really matter whether you call God by the names of Jesus or Buddha? Whether you call your mother Ma or Mom, she will still respond. Does it really matter if you sit cross-legged in meditation, or whether you free your divinity by laughing joyously with friends? All the metaphysical gimmicks and esoteric knowledge won’t make a difference if you have lost your soul connection. God asks of us only to be good and tolerant people, and to scrape away the gross coating of imperfection, ignorance and tolerance that covers our brilliant golden souls.

Perhaps what is missing to achieve peace on earth, is the realization by each of us that in every religious culture, there is a living core, a strong conviction, a dynamic force at work to rejuvenate the spirit and revitalize the community. Work towards a nation that stands together to praise one universally loved God.

The Science of Death
by Swami Murugesu

When we say that so-and-so died, we mean that all his bodily movements have stopped. If the heart and lungs stop working and the external limbs cease to function, we say that death has come to a body. But death is not necessarily changes in bodily organs or perishing of those organs. The pranic energy that was activating the internal and external organs has merely left those organs. In short, by death we mean that the pranic energy has left the body.

If the outflow of a lake is more than the inflow, in due course it will become dry. Every bodily action results in pranic energy being spent. The replenishment of pranic energy gradually starts to decreases at a certain point in time. When there is no replenishment over a period of time, then death begins. Doubts may arise if a person continues replenishing their energy and does not die, as this is not deemed possible. Take an electrical machine, for example. Even when electricity is supplied continuously, the machine will stop functioning after some time due to wear and tear.

Our bodies, due to overwork and improper habits, suffer wear and tear and will eventually not be in a position to accept pranic energy, so death will result. But great sages know how to replenish lost pranic energy and build up worn parts of the body, being able to live for vastly longer periods of time than the average person, thousands of years even. Despite this, they do not usually wish to live in this world of illusion for more than their allotted time, preferring to dwell in higher realms. But for ordinary mortals, death cannot be defied.

On reducing the flow of electrical energy, the functioning of an electricity-driven machine will slow down. Similarly, before death, certain indications will be there to point out the event. Death is not something that gives agony, because the soul within the subtle body vacates the physical vehicle before death actually occurs, and when the soul is external to the physical body, no physical sensations are experienced. The soul of most immature individuals does not generally wish to leave the body so, when this does happen, it wastes vast amounts of energy trying to re-enter its expired material confines. This continual struggle is known as the ‘pangs of death’, or the ‘fight to the end’, before the soul realises the futility of the exercise and moves on quietly.

Pranic energy exits, firstly, from the fore-mind, resulting in loss of consciousness, confusion and nonsensical talk. Because of this depletion of pranic energy, each bodily organ releases its stored pranic energy and, consequently, the breathing rate slows, the pulse drops, body-heat lowers and eye-sight diminishes.

The subtle or astral body is connected to the pranic energy of the physical body by a cord, commonly known as ‘the astral cord’ or ‘silver cord’, and inTamil as the ‘pasa kayiru’, usually only disintegrates upon cremation. Sometimes bondage to worldly attachments are so great that the astral body remains connected to the decomposing physical body long after death, until the silver cord eventually disintegrates once the body is completely decomposed, only then freeing the soul. This is one of the reasons it is preferable to cremate a corpse, rather than to bury it under the ground or in a crypt, and it is the unseparated astral bodies of such souls that are frequently referred to as ghosts.

At the Eleventh Hour
the Biography
of Swami Rama
by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
ISBN 0-89389-212-2

On the surface, this book is the biography of a great sage of the Himalayas who mastered the practices of Yoga and brought to the West, a system for understanding the mysteries of body, mind and spirit. But, like the life of Swami Rama, these pages go much deeper than a mere sequence of astonishing events. Through stories of the authentic and fruit-ful guru-disciple relationships Swami had with both his mysterious master, Bengali Baba, and his own students, you will see how the precious system of spiritual tradition is transmitted through the generations. These pages also serve as a guide to the more esoteric and advanced practices of yoga and tantra not commonly taught or understood in the West, transporting the reader to holy places in India, revealing the importance of certain sacred sights and how to go about visiting them.

The wisdom in these stories penetrates beyond the power of words. As you read Pandit Tigunait’s tales of life with Swami Rama and see how a committed student actually draws knowledge and nourishment from his teacher, you will feel a few drops from the timeless stream of the traditions of the Himalayas planting themselves in your own heart.