July 2008

Swami Says + Healing Cherries + Y is for Yearning + 18 Kriya Postures of Babaji + Science of Tantric Sadhana + FEATURE: Sri Ram Acharya – Seer, Sage and Visionary + The Hidden Value of Trees + Worshiping Tulsi + Attention and Concentration + Inspiration + Gitascendence + The Great Science & Power of Gayathri + Journey to Haridwar

Cover photo: Shiva Lingam abishegam during Mahanavagraha, 28 June 2008

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Namasté all.
Certainly everyone has felt the chill of winter over the past couple of weeks. Now is the time to be giving thanks for our warm beds, protective clothing and winter meals, and thinking of those who are worse off than ourselves. Perhaps we can find a way to help those in need by donating a blanket, warm jacket or meal to another soul whose circumstances appear to be less than our own.

July’s Transcendence features Sriram Acharya and his great contribution towards increasing the understanding of Hindu principles and science. Swami Shankarananda contributes an interesting article on how what we eat affects our mental functioning. We find out why Cherries are good for us, and how we can use Rhodonite in healing. We discover the Hidden Value of Trees with Yvonne Jarvis, Swami Murugesu Maharishi briefly explains the Science of Tantric Sadhana. Reasons for the importance of Tulasi in Hindu Rituals are explained, and we visit Haridwar with Vish.

Events since the last issue of Transcendence include the Mahanavagraha Prayer in Verulam, conducted by Swami Shankarananda and, as always, a completely different divine experience. No two are ever alike. Sunday the 13th July saw another Fun Day at Midmar Dam, in celebration of Swami’s birthday, which is actually on the 15th July. This was very well attended, even thought the weather was freezing. Much laughter, fun, games, bhajan and food were had by all. Thanks to Swami for inviting everyone to spend the day with Him.

Please remember the Gayathri Maha Yajna Prayer which will be held on the 9th of August at the Gayathri Peedam (see advert on page 5). The blessings showered on this day cannot be described as the Gayathri Mantra is recited the entire day. The cost is only R120 per family.

Finally, we are wanting to put together a Gayathri Peedam Vegetarian Recipe Book for year-end fundraising, so please send in all your best recipes for us to include (email to jo.petzer@mweb.co.za) and also, if possible, a photo of yourself and/or a photo of the dish or meal you will be contributing. We’re counting on your enthusiastic contribution to make this happen.

In Love and Service always, Ed.

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Live in the Moment
Yesterday, today and tomorrow are one. No matter how you analyse it. Yesterday will today, tomorrow was once today. Therefore live in this moment. Make everyday a paradise experience, a joyous experience.

Feel, feel, what you feel is my energy. Look, look, what you see is my strength. The strength of the pounding ocean against the rocks is mine. The swaying of the forest by the gale-force wind is my strength. The rushing of hot ash after a volcano is my might. The opening of the earth after an earthquake is my strength. The birth of a foetus into this world is by my energy. All is mine. I eventually draw you back into me. I am all the energy and strength, yet I have the greatest love. Don’t waste my love, live life in my love or else life will just pass onto another life.

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Healing Cherries
These delicious fruits generally have less than 120 calories per cup, are fat-free and nutritionally full of vitamins A and C and the minerals calcium, potassium, and iron. Cherries are a recognized natural therapy for helping to prevent gout and, in some cases, have helped in the treatment of gout Another plus to this little fruit is that clinical research at dental centres indicate cherries may help prevent plaque formation and thereby help prevent tooth decay.

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Yvonne Jarvis

The Hidden Value of Trees
Trees are known as the lungs of the planet, exchanging carbon dioxide for life-giving oxygen, and our wanton destruction of rainforests has caused an oxygen imbalance across the planet. Trees also have aesthetic appeal, softening the landscape, and colouring our precious environment with a variety of healing green hues. In addition to this, trees have many other important functions, including provision of shade, nesting habitat for birds and insects, noise barriers, fruit, food, and medicines, wood for furniture, rubber and a multitude of other uses.

Have you noticed how much better you feel when you have taken time to relax outdoors, and spread your blanket or placed your camp chair out under a tree? Tree-huggers seem to know something that most of us do not.

I quote from a section of Jeffrey Goelitz’s book Secrets from the life of trees:
“Their main purpose on the planet is to help all beings evolve to a higher consciousness. Trees have a non-threatening energy for humans to pick up on, as are many things in nature, like plants, flowers and meadows. They bring to the world peace, and tranquility. Wood, food and beauty are then extras within the sub-purpose of a tree. The energy they give out goes indiscriminately toward everyone. Trees do not have what you would call a learning or growing pattern of right and wrong. They are more in harmony with the planet and would not be able to take a left-hand turn, as humans can.

Trees provide essence levels of energy for the planet to use… There is also a wisdom band in trees because they have been on the planet much longer than humans. They hold a higher vibration of the truth. Throughout the ages trees have been used as spots for higher teachings. Buddha, Jesus, and many others held their classrooms in a grove of trees… A tree puts out a higher, clearer vibration which enables people to receive more clarity.”

The book goes on to explain that there are many nature spirits which work with trees because they are so important to the planet. Nature spirits have a band of energy which they adapt for the use of the tree. They supplement the energy of the tree that Earth’s negativity would otherwise alter. In city parks, the nature spirits help trees put out positive energy.

Earth has been referred to as ‘man-infested’. This is reminiscent of a movie entitled Emerald Forest, about a rain forest in South America, where the local Indian tribe refers to those that destroy the forests as “termite people”. Humankind takes what he can from nature as a matter of course with selfishness, greed and self-centredness. So let us start to change the way we think about Mother Nature, and begin to appreciate her healing power. Let us begin to awaken to the miracle of nature, and give thanks. Let us each do our bit, and teach our children the importance of maintaining our precious earth in pristine condition, for the generations to come.

Reference: Secrets from the life of trees by Jeffrey Goelitz

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Swami Murugesu Maharishi

The Science of Tantric Sadhana
All objects from those as large as the sun, moon, and mountain ranges to the smallest subtle articles like atoms, are found to be in constant action. The cause of this motion exists in all things. Scientists, like Einstein have proven this. Man lives in a state where he is unable to use his own energy and is therefore entangled in worries, difficulties and sickness. If he knew how to use his own energy he could live a heavenly life on earth. Scientists who have studied the world have come to the same conclusion. Man, if he is able to use that energy could erase all the sins in his sub-conscious mind (chitta) and can lead a life as he wishes. This method is taught in several parts of the world. Those who have been trained are leading an unalloyed happy life.

Tantric Sastra explains how to access and use this all-powerful Maha Sakthi energy. It also explains the method of arousing the dormant power that is latent in air, stones and metals to bring them under man’s control and use them in a manner that is useful to man. The aim of Tantric Sastra is the drawing of specific yantras in metal and by means of japa, cause focussed waves of energy to penetrate the plates so that they can hold the energy and continue to radiate that energy outwardly, conferring benefits to the person who energised them, or to other needy person. The exact science behind this is too complicated to include in this short article.

There are many kinds of Tantric Sadhana practices: Chief among these are Iswara Sadhana, Vanaspathi Sadhana, Graha Peetha Sadhana, Orraikkan Thengai Sadhana, Tilaka Sadhana, Pushpa Sadhana, Ratna Sadhana, Deepa Sadhana and Pancha Karma Sadhana. Following are more details on the first of these:

Ishwara Sadhana: The spread of Tantric Sadhana is in temple rituals, fasting and pooja. The Para Sakhti energy which is all pervasive should be channelled and made to work through an object. If you would like to see God in a particular form then make your Ishta Deiva out of five metals and inscribe the manthras thereon.

Choose a day that is auspicious for the deity and prepare yourself for the practise. Two days prior to your chosen day take ‘pancha kaviya prasanam’, Dasa Snanam and Gayathri Japa. The following day repeat the same and also Dream Sadhana and salutations to your guru. On the appointed day, in a separate room, place the yantra in the appropriate place to do Vaideeha Sandya, Tantric Sandya, creation, sustenance and destruction rituals and , to awaken all these powers in you, do Sevadeha Prana Prathishta followed by ablutions and Sodasa Upacharas. Recite the Dyana Mantrha of the murthi and chant the moola mantra of the deity to the required extent. Finally do meditation. For the main sadhana, if you wish to see your Ishta Deiva, keep a murthi of the deity in a dimly-lit room so that you can see it at will. Focus on the idol and concentrate on your Ishta Deiva and chant the name of your Ishta Deiva mentally at the same time focusing on your desire to see him/her. When you’ve succeeded a sweet smell will fill the room and in the dim light your Ishta Deva will appear as a shadow figure. By continuing this practise for a number of days, the image will become clearer. Do not allow your mind to waver. Maintain your focus and you will year your Ishta Deva speak.

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Rod Briggs

Y is for Yearning
Throughout my childhood and on through my adult years I regularly became aware of an internal loneliness, a yearning for things unknown.

It was the kind of ephemeral feeling that was unrelated to my physical surroundings or well-being but was rather part of my internal dialogue – my very sense of self. Initially I thought that it was something amiss with my own psyche but as I found out more about the mind I began to understand that it is part of human experience generally.

My first clue came from reading The Lost World of the Kalahari by Sir Laurens Van Der Post in which he described his experience of the loneliness of the kopjes and veldt around his ancestral farm in the hinterland of South Africa, when he related this to his father he replied that the loneliness was not in the hills but was within Laurens himself and was only mirrored by the isolation and vastness of the landscape. In later years I knew it as melancholy, the condition, according to the ancients, of too much “black bile” in the system and which causes feelings of loss or separation. It even surfaced in the graffiti at university as “Nostalgia is not what it used to be!”

The ancients slept amongst the stars. Our cave dwelling ancestors sat around small fires and watched the night come alive around them, the Milky Way felt so close they could almost touch it and the nurturing and restorative energies of the night were palpable; there is an echo of this understanding in the Zulu word for the moon – Inyanga (the healer). Traditional festivals and celebrations revolved around the change of seasons, equinoxes, solstices and other natural phenomena including death. At the beginning of every winter the ancient Celts took stock of their herds and slaughtered those cattle they could not feed through the coming season; the carcasses were burnt on a ceremonial Bone Fire (from where we get bonfire) to release the spirits of the beasts back into the great circle, thus ensuring fertile herds the following year.

Although we have moved on and become more “civilised” (there’s a topic for debate for you), our physiology is still inherently aware of our interconnectedness. Watch new-borns in a nursery, you will notice that when one of them cries the rest do as well. When we are young we are still aware of other people’s pain. We talk to animals and can touch magic. Growing up in today’s world is an act of closing down these doorways in perception; separation and individuality is encouraged, sometimes even demanded, with the end result being feelings of isolation and deep seated longing for something we don’t even know. How do we rid ourselves of this separation anxiety? Simply learn to re-connect by taking time out to look at what’s really going on around us. Open up your senses to the textures of life and realise you are not just an observer but an integral part of the spirit that moves everything. We are, quite literally, made of starstuff.

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Mahavishnu Moodley

Journey to Haridwar
There is a place in the north of India that is a hub of spiritual activity. It is a place so pristine, so serene, even sages make their appearance. Welcome to Haridwar, the gateway to God!

Haridwar means the door to Vishnu. It is the name given to this area because pilgrims have to begin their visit to Badrinath, the territory of Vishnu, at this city. It is also called Hardwar, since Shaivites, the ardent followers of Shiva who wish to invoke His blessings at the holy spot of Kedarnath, have to also begin here. Inevitably, one gets the feeling that behind the myriad of millions of gods, there exists but one expandable energy.

It is said that King Bhagirathi, a descendant of the sun dynasty and hence a forefather of Lord Rama, wanted to bring the pure waters of the river Ganga from the heavens. Legend has it that a horse of the King Sagar (the great-grandfather of Bhagirathi) was found in the cave of Sage Kapila, who was consequently subjected to rude remarks by the king’s men. When the sage opened his eyes from the deep state of meditation, he burned all the king’s sons and men. Bhagirathi’s effort was in an attempt to put the deceased ancestors, all of whom had been inflicted by the curse of Sage Kapila, to rest. However, the flow of Ganga was too turbulent for the earth to handle, and her descent would have caused chaos. Bhagirathi prayed to Lord Shiva, who then took the Ganges into His matted locks, an act which further sanctified the waters. It is at Haridwar that the Ganges descends from the source to the plains for the first time.

Amrita refers to the divine elixir of deathless-ness, the desire of many men especially in ancient times. It is said that whilst Garuda (the eagle who is the vehicle for Lord Vishnu) was carrying the divine mixture, he accidently spilt it at four spots – Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain. In yet another story, we are told of the tug-of-war churning of the ocean, with the gods on one side, and the demons on the other. In an attempt to keep all the elixir for themselves, the demons stole it and ran away. The gods began chasing them, and the elixir fell in the four mentioned spots. It is at these four spots that the Kumbha Mela is held.

Kumbha Mela is a gathering of millions of people, in which ritual bathing in the Ganges, feeding of the masses, and chanting of the divine name is undertaken. More importantly, the Kumbha Mela is the time when the many sages and saints who have made themselves invisible to the materialistic man, become perceivable. It is at this great event that Sri Yukteswar had the opportunity of meeting with Mahavatar Babaji.

Every twelve years, a Maha Kumbha Mela is held, but this is done only at Prayag, Allahabad. This climax draws more than 60 million people on a single day, and is thus the largest gathering of any sort in the world. Compared to Ganges in Varanasi, the river here is relatively clean. It is also more conducive to dipping or bathing in the waters, since there are demarcated areas to protect pilgrims and locals from the swift motion of the river. It is not uncommon to see the burnt remains of the deceased floating with the current. People believe that if your ashes are immersed in the purity of the Ganges, you will get Moksha, the liberation that is the purpose of life.

Hari-ki-pauri literally translates to the “step of Vishnu.” It is a reference to the stone in the bathing Ghat that has imprinted on it the left footprint of Lord Vishnu, which is constantly bathed by the Ganges. Pilgrims may even touch the footprint, provided the priests in charge are in a happy mood! This ghat was built in memory of Brithari, who performed penance on the very banks of the Ganga, by his brother, King Vikramaditya. Within Hari-ki-pauri, there is the Brahmakund. This is the exact spot where the nectar is said to have fallen. Arathi is performed daily, and it is indeed a marvellous sight. A variety of lamps, all with a unique design and number of lights, is waved in honour of the Goddess Ganga, amid the clash of cymbals and gongs. Attendants then light diyas, small clay lamps adorned with a flower in a petite bowl made of dried leaves, and set them free in the current of Ganga, to dance to the motion of the holiest of rivers.

The Chandi Devi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Chandi or Chandika, a ferocious form of Shakti who is an amalgamation of Kali, Lakshmi and Sarasvathi. We can perceive God to be any of the qualities we want God to be, since God encompasses any and every thing in the world, and at the same time, is nothing in this world. In Lakshmi, we see the manifestation of bounty, in Saraswathi, knowledge and in Kali, justice. When all these come together, we have a confluence of qualities that make up the Unknowable energy, in this instance, Chandi. It is at the very spot of this temple that the Goddess slew the demons Chanda and Munda. It is this Goddess that destroys the demons of too-much and too-little, concepts which we know all too well. Too much of a good thing is bad, and even a little of a bad thing may sometimes feel good (think of alcohol as used in the preparation of some medications). The goddess destroys these lively demons within us, so that we may come to glimpse Her true nature. The main icon in this temple is said to have been installed by Adi Shankaracharya, the greatest Vedantist of the present age.

The Maya Devi temple is an important Shakti Peetham, or a seat of energy. Other temples include the Mansa Devi Temple and Bharat Mata Temple, a multi-layered shrine that tells of the history and present day affairs of India. Other attractions include the Samadhi of Ma Anandamoyi, the blissful female saint who is noted in Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. Other attractions also include Shantikunj and Rishikesh, but these will be discussed in separate articles.

God’s presence can be felt everywhere, but when in Haridwar, one cannot help but feel that there is a supersaturation of it here. Then again, energy is personal, and what may seem divine to one, may be total blasphemy to another. It all comes down to one thing – God is beyond mere books and tales, and how we interpret these two fashions the way in which we adore and worship the one we wish to connect to. Till we come to know the truth within us, we are moulded by the cornerstones of the religion we follow. When the truth becomes even vaguely apparent, we question everything we ever really believed in. And being confused is actually a good thing. As Osho puts it, “Life is such a mystery, no one can understand it, and one who claims that he understands it is simply ignorant.

He is not aware of what he is saying, of what nonsense he is talking. If you are wise, this will be the first realization: life cannot be understood. Understanding is impossible. Only this much can be understood -- that understanding is impossible.”