September 2009

Swami Says: Highest Secret + Death is Just Joke + Healing Pineapple + Ulexite + On Death + Evolution and Ilumination + The Aryan Factor in Hinduism + FEATURE: Ramakrishna Paramahamsa + Perception + Prasada + Evolution and Environments + Women's Rights to Gayathri Sadhana + Journey to Chidambaram + Meditation for Kids + much more ...

Cover image: Trip to India – Swami Shankarananda with Paramahansa Nithyananda, Bangalore, September 2009

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Namasté all.
Spring has officially arrived! The weather is beautiful and new life is everywhere. What better time than this to go outside for a few minutes each day and spend some moments in awareness and awe of the Divine Presence shining within and throughout everything? Such a simple act done in complete devotion can transport you consciously to God’s doorstep.

After a two week visit to India, Gurudeva is back with us and, hopefully, any devotees or students who were given work to do while Guru was away, have done it as best they could. There is a lot happening in September including Sacred Chants in Bloemfontein on the 6th, the annual Yogathon on the 12th, Mahanavathri starting on the 19th, Swami Murugesu’s Mahasamadhi Service on the 24th and the Navarathri Chariot Procession on the 26th. We hope that everyone will take advantage of this and enjoy the extra opportunities to spend time with Guru and at the Ashram.

There have been some ongoing questions as to what we can do to make Guru’s life less stressful and how we can show our gratitude and acknowledgement for Guru’s uplifting influence in our lives. The answer is a simple one but seems to be difficult for many to perform because, for all of us, ego gets in the way. See everyone as greater than yourself. Let’s just start with a daily reflection on what this sentence actually means and make an effort to practise it at least once a day. Hand and hand with this perception, goes the effort to think before you speak. So simple, but so difficult to do simply because we have not mastered our minds, the one obstacle to enlightenment. The best time to start this new way of thinking is right now.

There is a lot being done regarding the upgrading of the Gayathri Peedam building and gardens. Plus, with all the activity at the ashram during September, there is extra work to do and not always enough hands to do it. Please take the time to review your schedule and put aside one day a week (or over the weekend) to help out at the ashram with cleaning, gardening or general maintenance. Contact either Guru, Ashok or Dean if you are able to help with anything at all. No action performed with sincerity, love and devotion ever goes unnoticed.

In Love and Service always,

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Swami Shankarananda

I feel your pain, I feel your joy, I feel your sadness, and I feel your sorrow. I feel all that and if, at any time, you found that for some reason the umbilical cord between us has been cut, it is not me, it’s you: for only you can make that possible, not me. I will always be with all of you in this life and even in the life after this. That is my pledge and my promise. So, if you think you’re gonna loose me sometime in this lifetime then think again, because I will be the same menace to you that I’ve always been. I will trouble you even in another lifetime, for life is just a journey. The limitation of life is determined by the supreme intelligence called God, and only He decides when the lotus has to be plucked from the pond. And when he makes that decision the lotus will definitely be plucked. So each one of us is on this journey, with only the limitation of God and nothing else. And if we enjoy this journey, not just by birthdays, but by Cosmic Union with the God in each one of you seated here, you will find that death is just a joke.

Om Kriya Babaji Nama Om.

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Devotee: If one is materialistic, does that mean the mind is limited?

Swami Shankarananda: Yes. The senses told the mind ‘I need to gain more’ because when you buy a Mercedes you’re not thrilled as somebody else has a Maserati. So you go out and buy one but then another person has a Lamborghini. It is the senses that are causing the limitation.

Devotee: Is clairaudience, for example, only possible once we overcome the mind?

Swami Shankarananda: No. The mind is required for that as some perception is required for such abilities. The idea is not to overcome the mind, but to master the mind through meditation.

Devotee: Why is the body said to be limited if it acts upon the authority of the mind?

Swami Shankarananda: The operation of the mind and perception are limited by the senses and the senses. Every time you have a new experience it is registered in your ‘mental hard drive’ and when that same experience happens again u enjoy it because it’s familiar. The body is limited by the mind because the mind is limited by the senses. Therefore I you need to shut the windows to your body – the senses. Otherwise the physical body cannot attain a higher state. By closing your eyes the effort is to switch off the mind, then you will experience all kinds of things. Look at the ancient sages: they travelled to the nine planets without a spaceship – just by closing the mind and meditation. When the planets were discovered, they were exactly how those sages said them to be. The body is definitely limited. The body is not the limitation. The mind is the limitation.

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Bro. Haridas

In the quest for the Hindu identity, the role and influence of the Aryans cannot be underestimated. However, the entire debate of the migration of the Aryan people into India still dominates the academic agenda of Indological scholars. Klaus K. Klostermaier makes reference to several theories that have been put in place by eminent scholars like BG Tilak, FE Pargiter and other general Indologists to explain the origins of the Aryans and their settlement in India. These theories have not settled the issue of the exact period when the Aryans have come to India. Tilak is of the view that it is around 6000BCE; FE Pargiter, on the other hand, proposes around 2050BCE, and other Indologists estimate between 1500-1200BCE (ibid p37). There has not been an accurate instrument developed to solve this problem.

Klostermaier also examines the role of the ancient Indian chronology in this are of work and the several challenges it posed. He points out that Western scholars have often underestimated the significance of Ancient Indian chronology. Linked with the date of the Aryan settlement in India, is the whole question of the place of origin of the Aryan people. In this regard, Klostermaier reflects on the research suggestions of Tilak, Partiger and other general Indologists (ibid 37-38). Tilak suggests that the Aryans may have originated from the northern polar region. Partiger submits that they may have come from the mid-Himalayas, while others suggest they could have come from southern Russia or Iran. Here again, it has been very difficult to trace the origins of the Aryans. The one thing that is clear is that they have come from outside India.

The Aryans brought with them a simple village culture which helped shape the religion of India. Klostermaier reveals that traditional Aryan society was primarily hierarchical with the Brahmins and Kshatriyas competing for first place, the Vaisyas deeply involved with farming, cattle-breeding and trading; and the sudras considered as service providers (ibid p38). The Brahmins were custodians of the ancient Vedic rituals, the secrets of which wielded tremendous social power, and they jealously guarded these secrets from outsiders. These Vedic sacrifices are still evident today in one form or another and are observed by most Hindus on ceremonial occasions. Vedic Brahmins like Agastya, were considered powerful Aryan missionaries who colonised the south of India with Vedic religion. The Aryans have played a powerful role in shaping the Hindu religion and society that we have today. Outside of the Aryan influence, there were the tribal populations as well as slaves. The Brahmanic religion developed no temples or religious images. In fact, the epic and puranic literature which was considered complementary to the Vedas, inspired the development of murthis, mandirs, and developed a strong local assent which threatened to replace the Vedic religion.

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Paramahansa Yogananda

Many human beings say, “I love you,” one day and reject you the next. That is not love. One whose heart is filled with the love of God cannot wilfully hurt anyone. When you love God without reservation, He fills your heart with His unconditional love for all. That love no human tongue can describe ... The ordinary man is incapable of loving others in this way. Self-centered in the consciousness of ‘I, me, and mine’ he has not yet discovered the omnipresent God who resides in him and in all other beings. To me there is no difference between one person and another; i behold all as soul-reflections of the one God. I can’t think of anyone as a stranger, for I know that we are all part of the One Spirit. When you experience the true meaning of religion, which is to know God, you will realise that He is your Self, and that He exists equally and impartially in all beings. Then you will be able to love others as your own Self. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself (Holy Bible, New Testament Luke 10:27).

In the consciousness of one who is immersed in the divine love of God, there is no deception, no narrowness of caste or creed, no boundaries of any kind. When you experience that divine love, you will see no difference between flower and beast, between one human being and another. You will commune with all nature, and you will love equally all mankind.

Compassion toward all beings is necessary for divine realisation, for God Himself is overflowing with this quality. Those with a tender heart can put themselves in the place of others, feel their suffering and try to alleviate it. Lord Krishna taught: “The best type of yogi is he who feels for others, whether in grief or pleasure, even as he feels for himself.” (Bhagavad Gita VI: 32)

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Rod Briggs

“So Sorry! It Isn't You I'm dealing with but an image in my head”

I’m writing this while on a lecture tour in Europe and have just spent two days helping people come to terms with the fact that we don’t experience people, places or events, but rather our perception of them. It is illustrated rather well by this old example from Jewish Mysticism:

Samuel was down in the dumps and who could blame him? His landlord had
ordered him out of the apartment and he had nowhere to go. Suddenly, light dawned. He could live with his good friend Moshe. The thought brought Samuel much comfort, until he was assailed by another thought that said, “What makes you so sure that Moshe will put you up at his place?” “Why shouldn’t he?” said Samuel to the thought, somewhat heatedly. “After all, it was I who
advanced him the money to pay his rent for the first six months. Surely the least he could do is put me up when I am in trouble.”

That settled the matter until after dinner, when he was once again confronted by the thought: “Suppose he were to refuse?” “Refuse?” said Samuel. “Why in God’s name would he refuse? The man owes me everything he has. It is I who got him his job; it is I who introduced him to that lovely
wife of his who has borne him the three sons he glories in. Will he grudge me a room for a week? Impossible!”

That was the end of it until he got to bed and found he couldn’t sleep because the thought came back to say, “But just suppose he were to refuse. What then?” This was too much for Samuel. “How the hell could he refuse?” he said, his temper rising now. “If the man is alive today it is because of me. I saved him from drowning when he was a kid. Will he be so ungrateful as to turn me out into the streets in the middle of winter?”

But the thought was persistent. “Just suppose...” Poor Samuel struggled with it as long as he could. Finally he got out of bed around two in the morning, went over to where Moshe lived, and kept his finger pressed against the doorbell button till Moshe, still half asleep, opened the door and said in astonishment, “Samuel! What is it? What brings you here in the middle of the night? Samuel was so angry by now he couldn’t keep himself from yelling, “I’ll tell you what brings me here in the middle of the night! If you think I’m going to ask you to put me up even for a single day, you’re mistaken. I don’t want to have anything to do with you, your house, your wife or your family. To hell with you all!” With that he turned on his heel and walked away.

Think how many times similar thought processes cause us unnecessary anguish.

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Suren Pillay

In the world today, many creative ideas have been forwarded to benefit humanity in positive and illuminating ways. Environmental efforts to lower fuel emissions and pollution have been approved by most major conglomerates around the world. The vast majority of the human population agrees that if we wish our children and grandchildren to enjoy their stay on planet Earth, we need to look after the planet we live in.

Being in tune with nature is an important part of the spiritual journey. Enlightened saints say that one of the most important rules of spiritual practice is to live in harmony with one’s environment and nature. A further question to be asked is: how do we make the most of our environments for spiritual growth, health and prosperity?

The environment we live in plays an important part in our spiritual evolution. A great saint once mentioned that the atmosphere at a satsang is elevating as opposed to a casino or nightclub. The spiritual atmosphere influences the human mind and thought because the atmosphere is charged with energy and mental vibrations of people who have visited the area.

If one were to visit an area where a saint once lived, one would be instantly spiritually elevated due to the strong spiritual vibrations in that area. It has been said by a great yogi that twenty-five percent of our spiritual energy is stored in the place where our spiritual practices are performed. The sanctity of the place of spiritual worship should thus always be private, clean, and in area where silence is predominant.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, one of the requirements on the spiritual path is cleanliness or sauca. This also refers to one’s place of worship. The method of thus optimising spiritual growth by environmental influences is to visit holy shrines (especially samadhis) and temples, and to keep one’s own place of spiritual worship private and clean.

A great yogi once said that if one is spiritually receptive enough, one can actually feel the presence of a spiritual master if one visits the area in which that master lived and performed his spiritual practices. Temples are an excellent source of rejuvenation since they are constructed with materials designed to spiritually recharge devotees.

One of greatest ways to make the most of the environment is to start meditating. In meditation all the resources of the cosmos are at our disposal. Wherever one is in the world, meditation is the key to opening the wonders of the cosmos. The meditator accesses dimensions of life beyond the physical and receives wisdom from a perfect source, untainted by egoism, doubt and intellect.

My message to you this month, dear readers, is to visit temples in order to keep spiritually recharged. In addition, make sure your place of spiritual worship is private, clean and holy. Treasure samadhi shrines for their spiritual power is immense, and be receptive to the grace of God that is all around you.

Aum, Shanti, Shalom, Amen!