February 2009

Swami Says: Learn to Share + Healing Apples + Sodalite + The Need for Expansiveness + Significance of Poojas + FEATURE: Swami Nithyananda + Integrated Growth + Spiritual Powers attained by Gayathri Sadhaks + Arunachala + much more ...

Cover image: Swami Shankarananda performing Abeshegam, during the Sapta Rishi Linga Consecration Ceremony, 20 December 2008

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Namasté all.
With this first issue of Transcendence 2009, we’d like to wish all readers a divine and blessing-filled year ahead. Remember that where you are now is a result of what you’ve done in the past, so what you experience in the future will be determined by what you are doing now, so make every moment, thought, word and deed count.

There were many projects successfully completed during 2008, thanks to dedicated students and devotees. But there are also a number of projects designated for undertaking in 2009, so keep up the good work in making the Ashram a beautiful place of worship and your spiritual home-from-home.

An important issue that was raised during a recent meeting is the benefit of devotees working together to complete projects. It is always the same few individuals who make the time and the effort and, ultimately, ... reap the benefits. Most don’t realise the darshan received during joyful and willing service. So, if things don’t seem to be going your way in life, take the time to volunteer some work at the ashram on a regular basis and take note of the changes that happen in your life. Part of the issue of people working together is related to Swami Shankarananda and the stress Swami undergoes when devotees bicker, gossip and are not organised for functions and prayers. We have been informed that Swami needs to reduce his stress levels drastically if Swami is to be with us for much longer. By working together and getting things done timeously for events and during prayers, we can go a long way towards achieving this. So, the keynote for 2009 is: be ready, be organised, behave!

February is the month of Love, but, instead of focussing on romantic love, let us focus for a change on Divine Love and what it means. So many jump from one relationship to another looking for elusive love and never finding it. This is because what they are looking for is beyond physical affection. They are looking for Union with the God. Spend some time focussing on how you can improve your unconditional love for others but also on how you can raise your love to a different level, beyond the confines of the physical.

We’ve decided to try something new this year, to see how it goes and so that Transcendence readers can benefit. Below are three questions based on articles in this issue of Transcendence. Each has a one-word answer. The first three readers (one per family only) to give me (Jo) all three answers at the March Full Moon prayer will receive a small gift. This month’s questions are: (a) What is the soluble fibre found in apples called? (b) Who first called Swami Nithyananda by the name of ‘Paramahamsa Sri Nithyananda’? (c) Where is Lord Shiva adored by the name of ‘Arulmigu Arunachaleshwara’? Happy reading!!

In Love and Service always, Ed.

Message from the Master

all listen carefully for there is some hope to end most of your troubles. If you are ready to accept the fact that, globally, there is a great need for justice and peace, surely for you there will be a new life ahead. Know that the lack of justice and peace in this world, is the major obstacle on your path today. Yet, to solve this is very easy: the acceptance of sharing is the answer. Even in the Gaza region: did anyone ask those living there how they feel? Share and know the future. what we see in the Gaza is really a refusal to share. Yes, refusal to share means no future for man. Develop knowing eyes, then life will become simple. This is the time to learn to live simply and with love for one another. Today I say to you: share ... share ... share.

Reader's Contribution from Sundriemaheshwarie

Love suffers long and is kind as when we love, we are patient, without irritation, temper or judgment. We are always willing and helpful. Love does not envy . It is non-possessive, non-competitive and revels in the good fortune of others. Love does not parade itself. It is modest and humble. Nor is it puffed up. It is not boastful and proud. Love does not behave rudely. It is courteous, well-mannered and kindly, even in trying circumstances. ... it does not seek its own. It is not selfish, but is willing to compromise for the greater good. Love is not provoked but is graceful under pressure, never irritable or hostile with others. Love thinks no evil and does not keep an account of wrongdoings but erases resentments. Love does not rejoice in iniquity. It does not find satisfaction in negative situations or gossip. ... but rejoices in the truth, and is characterized by honesty to oneself and to others, despite shortcomings. Love bears all things. It does not complain when things go wrong but rejoices in praise of God. Love believes all things, which are uplifting to oneself and others. It is not suspicious. Love hopes all things. It never gives up on others or self but looks forward in joy. Love endures all things. It perseveres and is eternally loyal. Love never fails. (Read: 1 Corinthians 13 : Verses 4- 8)

Swami Shankarananda

Dearest children of Gayathri,
the Gita tells us that whenever and wherever God’s divine children are overwhelmed by destructive forces of the universe, God manifests in order to restore the balance eliminate negativity. So, God is the one who makes everything available for the seeker to attain some kind of enlightenment.

The Self is that great God, the eternal Guru within. What you cannot see is seen through the discourses of the Guru. Since God is the internal and eternal Self of all beings, He makes your faith steady for the deity you wish to worship. It is only by steadfast practice and single-pointed focus that one can attain God. Any form of worship is acceptable to God, as long as there is concentration and devotion. Only if worship is undertaken in full faith, will it bare fruit. This is the reality. Whatever form or energy you worship, the results are bestowed by that Supreme Intelligence, GOD.

Many of you have engaged in the self-manufactured products of illusion. You should make a concerted effort to disengage from this. Think of God always. Start by thinking of God for a few minutes each day and during activities which create insincerity or doubt, joy or blessing. Build up your focus on God until you are able to think of God every minute of the day, no matter what you are doing. Be sincere. Sincerity leads us to being naturally engrossed in God.

A member of the rose family, fossil remains have shown that apples were gathered and stored 5000 years ago and it’s likely that they were already cultivated during the Neolithic times. Apples are excellent detoxifiers and apple juice can destroy viruses in the body. Remember that old saying, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’? Apples have always been thought of as one of the healthiest fruits available. Available year round, apples are cholesterol free, almost fat free and, depending on the size, generally less than 125 calories. The description sounds like a perfect diet food. But they also contain a tremendous amount of the soluble fiber, called pectin, which can trap things like cholesterol and aid in removing it from the body. In turn this removal of cholesterol can help maintain blood pressure. Pectin also can assist in balancing blood sugars. Apples also contain vitamins and minerals including A, C, folate, calcium, potassium and iron.

Yvonne Jarvis

During 2008 I was blessed to attend a workshop on abundance and manifestation, covering Deepak Chopra’s seven laws of spiritual success. These spiritual truths have been distilled over the next seven articles, the first one in the series helping us to understand the first law of pure potentiality more fully.

“The source of all creation is pure conscious-ness … pure potentiality seeking expression from the unmanifest to the manifest. When we realise that our true Self is one of pure potentiality, we align with the power that manifests everything in nature.” The universe is created using archetypes and patterns of movement. Life is therefore in constant motion. That motion is controlled by con-sciousness, the consciousness of individuals, humanity, the earth, the solar system, and so on. Once your consciousness expands into the realization that you are part of an infinitely greater consciousness, that there is no separation, your own consciousness becomes more powerful, empowering you to create more of what you wish in your life.

Mankind has for aeons realised the connection between the macrocosm and the microcosm of man. The forces or archetypes which brought this universe into creation are reflected in every creation within that universe, including man. These forces are abstract, and when immersed in matter, whether that is the matter of consciousness, emotion or physical plane matter, they will cause creation to occur. Reality is not as we first thought. Everything that exists outside of ourselves in this reality is a mirror of our internal self-image, that which we believe ourselves to be. Thoughts, emotions and actions are constantly drawing on the infinite field of all possibility to create our reality around us, and most of us do this unconsciously. To change our reality around us, we must turn inwards. It is important to let go of all concepts of separation, let go of the belief that the reality outside your consciousness is unchangeable, let go of the belief that you cannot manifest anything, and let go of the belief that some other power in the universe other than yourself will manifest your desires. We need to step into presence, and become observers of our conscious minds at work, in the knowledge that our minds are simply computer processors with a data bank of collected information from the past. We need to realize that the programs in our minds are our reference points, and that these are not necessarily correct. We are part of the collec-tive consciousness, and some of our thoughts come from the collective consciousness web, and these too are not necessarily correct. The source of all creative power is what is called the Unmanifest. This is where the potentiality for all creation is held, but has not yet manifested. Humanity, being part of the Divine, has this quality, this abstract space, this field of potentiality for anything to happen and be created. To manifest anything in our lives, we need to draw on this central reservoir of creative energy. If you attach to an object which is outside of yourself, and if you feel that you do not have it, then that is what you create. The barrier to manifestation is the belief that all you desire is separate from you. The road to power is absolute knowing that all that is around you, all you perceive, is already part of who you are.

The first step in any manifestation is to recognize that you already have energetically all that you desire. There is a simple practice to connect to this field of infinite possibility, and that is to sit in meditation, in silence, without doing anything but being in that moment, in that space. The knack is to observe all thoughts as they arise, disconnect from emotional attachment and let them go. With practice, you will experience a space of stillness, a deep feeling of peace, which is the infinite space of all possibility, which is the driving force of all creation.

Reference: Christine and Kevin Core; Deepak Chopra - The seven laws of spiritual success

Rod Briggs

When I was a teenager I was an angry ‘spotty Herbert’ of a youth. I was aggressive and would have a go at anyone for any perceived wrong. I remember the defining moment in these outbursts from a lifetime ago as if it was yesterday; I was playing Monopoly with a close school friend when something ‘snapped’ in my brain and I found myself on top of him punching wildly amid his screams to stop. I said he was cheating, he said he wasn’t, but that’s not the point. The concern for me was not that I had lashed out as much as the fact that I had no conscious awareness of any of the details. It was very disturbing to realise that I had no control over my actions, or more correctly re-actions, at all.

My saviours appeared in the form of a gang of school bullies who pursued me so intently that I resorted, just like the sixty pound weakling in the adverts that I so closely resembled, to joining the local Karate club, vowing revenge and to learn enough to defend myself. I discovered a home within the Martial Arts and progressed rapidly. The dream of revenge changed as I came to understand the precept of the father of Shotokan Karate, Gichin Funakosi, that “Karate is not a way of defeating your enemies, but rather a way of finding yourself without enemies!” This truth is not something that has to be practiced; it happens as a by-product of the training and the change in me was remarkable. Since my first black belt I have never needed to fight.

The psychology behind Funakoshi’s statement reveals one of our core truths; our emotions will continue to rule us until we bring our awareness to them. The simple act of noticing an emotion is the first step to modifying it. It stops it becoming habitual and gives us control over our outbursts. Take anger for example. Very few people analyse their anger but most will agree that we are often angry at the wrong people, for the wrong reason and in the wrong way. Think about anger in your life and you will notice that it is actually unfulfilled expectation, nothing more.

The next time you feel angry towards a situation, event or person ask yourself what expectation do I have that is not being fulfilled. Explore these expectations and notice how quickly your awareness, and interaction, changes.

Mahavishnu Moodley

In the Suta Samhita, it is said, “Siva’s very form is Linga, hence the term Sivalinga. Later it will be found that the Supreme Being revealed Himself as a Linga of Light, as Arunachala.” Here at Arunachala, Siva shines forth as the Yogi, with his forehead besmeared with vibhuti (sacred ash), wearing but a loincloth, bearing a garland with snakes on his body and a crescent moon in his matted locks.

Arunachala is a holy hill situated in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. Adored by many other names including Sonachala, Arunagiri and Annamalai, this sacred soil is the heart of Saivism. It is also special to people practicing self inquiry. Little wonder, since Ramana Maharshi, who hailed from Arunachala asked the simple but deep question, “Who am I?”

In the Rig Veda, there is a tale which tells of Brahma and Vishnu arguing about who is supreme. Since the dispute could not be resolved, they asked of Siva to assess them. His task was simple: whoever can see my crown or my feet shall be deemed superior. Both agreed, and Siva transformed himself into a giant beam of light that extended from the heavens right down to the earth. Vishnu assumed the form of a boar and readily dug into the soil, seeking the feet of this effulgence. With no success, he accepted defeat. Brahma transformed himself into a swan and began searching for Siva’s crown. After travelling a distance, he encountered a flower that had fallen from the crown of Siva. He asked the flower how much further he had to travel, to which the flower replied that it had been travelling for forty thousand years since falling from the Lord’s head. Sensing near defeat, Brahma asked of the flower to support him when he said that he had seen the Lord’s crown. However, Siva could not be fooled, and became enraged at this deception. He cursed Brahma never to have any temples on earth, and the Thazhambu flower should never be used for his worship. Brahma and Vishnu then realised that neither of them were superior – Siva was the highest.

Many more scriptural references can be quoted expressing the sanctity of Arunachala. Ved Vyasa speaks of it in awe in the Skanda Purana. In the Arunachalam Mahatmyam, it is stated, “By seeing Chidambaram, by being born in Thiruvarur, by dying in Kashi (Varanasi) or by merely thinking of Arunachala, one will certainly attain bliss and liberation.” To explain the difference between Arunachala and other Siva shrines in India, Ramana Maharshi says that Kailash, Chidambaram and Kashi are divine because it is the abode of Siva, but Arunachala is Siva Himself.

Earth is made up of five elements. These elements are designated to five sacred Siva shrines in India, considered to be the spot where Siva manifested as each element and is known as the Pancha Bootha Sthala:
Earth (Prithvi) – Thiruvarur Water (Appu) – Thiruvanaikkal
Fire (Theju) – Thiruvannamalai (Arunachala) Air (Vayu) - Thirukkalasthi
Ether (Akasha) – Thillai (Chidambaram)

At Arunachala. Shiva is adored by the name Arulmigu Arunachaleshwara with his consort being Unnamalai Amman. Approaching the temple, one feels an aura of radiance, but it the sight of the Rajagopuram that signals arrival at the energy seat. The magnificent tower, a marvel of the Vijayanagar dynasty rises to a height of 217 feet with 11 stories, making it the second tallest tower in India. The Pathala Lingam, situated underground, is a stone lingam reached by a descent of steps. Its energy has not been disturbed since it was discovered. This was the lingam that Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi meditated on. So intense was his meditation, he was unaware of the insects that gnawed on his body. Mahan Shri Seshadri Swamigal noticed the plight of this divine being and made arrangements for him.

Kambath Illayanal Sannidhi refers to the site where Arunagirinathar, the author of Thirupugazh (a Tamil work in praise of Lord Muruga), attained liberation. According to the tale, Sambandan, a scholar of the kings’ court, felt threatened by Arunagiri’s growing popularity. He challenged him to a contest, in which he proposed that the person who could bring their chosen deity of worship to appear before the audienceshall be considered greater. Moved by the devotion of Arunagirinathar, Muruga appeared from a stone pillar. Since, this has been an important shrine for Murugan devotees. In keeping with the heritage left by Arunagirinathar, the Arunagirinathar Mandapam is a temple dedicated to Muruga, where this devoted servant is seen adoring the Lord with palms together. Engraved on the walls are the famous hymns of Arunagirinathar.

The sacred tree, Mahizha Maram, is situated in the third enclosure of the temple. The flowers are used for worship in the temple, the roots and leaves are used as medicine, and childless couples tie miniature cradles to the tree as a prayer to bear children. In the second enclosure, we find statues of the 63 Nayanars, Saivite devotional poets. Their stories can be found in the book Periya Puranam. Behind the sanctum sanctorum is a rare idol even in India. Venugopalaswamy, a Vaishnavite deity is depicted as both Hari (Vishnu) and Hara (Siva).

Moving passed a burning lamp, Nandi and idols of Surya (sun) and Chandra (moon), one arrives at the seat of Annamalai Arunachaleshwara. A lingam of immense beauty and magnitude, it is the characteristic gold covering that is eye-catching. Even the consort of Annamalai, Unnamalai (housed in a separate temple) is covered in gold. On the walls, there are paintings of Ardharaneeshwara, half-Siva-half-Shakti, since it is at Arunachala that Parvathi performed penance and obtained half of her Lord’s body.

Celebrated with immense devotion and grandeur is Karthigai Deepam. Held in the Tamil month of Karthigai (November-December), this event commemorates Siva’s promise to Vishnu and Brahma that he would appear as a Jothi, a divine light every year on the auspicious day of Karthigai Deepam. Beginning with the flag hoisting, the festival continues for 9 days. On the tenth day, a large cauldron of ghee is lit on a flat stone atop the mountain. The cloth wick of length 1000 feet, six hundred pounds of ghee and camphor is lit at 6pm from the main temple, after which it is taken to the summit amid the chanting of Om Arunachaleshwaraya Namah. The flame reaches a height of seven feet and can be seen for miles. Devotees take it upon themselves to offer ghee to the lamp. This is the largest lamp lit once a year, and it coincides with the luminous full moon.