Who Is Krishna?

krsna n cow who is krishna natural living bhakti yoga

If we are interested in learning more about the yoga system, especially bhakti yoga, it is inevitable that we will begin hearing about Krishna. We will hear the name of Krishna being chanted or sung at kirtan meditations. We will hear about Krishna – and Krishna’s instructions to us – from yoga scripture, such as the Bhagavad-Gita. And we will see beautiful pictures of Krishna.

So, naturally, we will want to know – who is Krishna?

Although the name Krishna may be new to us, it is helpful for us to know that Krishna is not a stranger to us. He is actually the person who is closer to us than anyone else in existence. In fact, He is our closest relative and dearmost eternal Friend. He travels with us, in our heart, in every lifetime, in every body – giving us guidance and comfort. We may have forgotten Him, but He never forgets us, even for a moment. His love for us is absolutely unconditional, unwavering, indefatigable. He is always aware of us, of absolutely everything we are going through – and knows our heart, knows us, even better than we know our self. It is Krishna, our dear eternal Friend and well-wisher, who is constantly offering us opportunities to come back into full remembrance of our true spiritual nature, and thus experience real and lasting happiness, peace, fulfillment, and love.

Simply put, Krishna is God, the Supreme Person. He is our original Source and the foundation of our existence. In fact, He is the Source of every person and thing, all that is material and all that is spiritual. Everything animate and inanimate emanates from, and rests upon, Him. He alone has no other origin for He is the Original Cause of all causes. He is the Supreme Friend and Well-Wisher of all living beings. And He is the Supreme Controller, eternally.

Krishna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.” ~Śrī Brahmasaḿhitā 5.1

In the yoga scriptures it is explained that out of all the spiritual beings in existence, there is one being who is uniquely superior to all the other beings. He alone is Supreme and all others come from Him, and are dependent upon Him. Krishna is the Supreme Spiritual Being and all other living beings are subordinate to, and dependent upon, Krishna. He is the center and foundation of all life.

The Supreme Person has innumerable transcendental names, forms, and expansions, but Krishna is His original name and form – His supreme name and form. All other names and forms are contained within the name and form of Krishna.

So when we speak of Krishna, all the other names and forms of God are included. Govinda, Gopala, Rama, Narayana, Vishnu, Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah, and so on, are all included within the name and form of Krishna. We can relate with Him through any of His transcendental names, but the name Krishna is supreme and all-inclusive – and also the most intimate and endearing name – so Krishna is the name He is most often called in yoga, especially bhakti yoga. Similarly, we can relate with Him through any of His transcendental forms, but Krishna is His original and supreme form, His most intimate form. Thus, in bhakti yoga, we will see people relating with Him most often as Krishna.

As individual spiritual beings, we are a part of Krishna’s marginal spiritual potency. Although we are eternal spiritual beings, made of spiritual energy, we are always subordinate to the Supreme Spiritual Being. We are eternally individuals and eternally subordinate. The Supreme is always Supreme in every circumstance and situation. We can never become Him, or become superior to Him. Although we are spiritual in essence and have many of the same qualities as Krishna, we have these qualities in very minute quantities. We are always dependent upon and subordinate to the Supreme Person. Thus, we have a natural tendency to want to serve Him and be in harmony with Him. Doing so brings us immeasurable transcendental pleasure and satisfaction.

Our eternal relationship with Krishna is compared in the yoga scriptures to the sun globe and the particles of sunlight which emanate from the sun globe. The Supreme Person is like the sun globe, and each of us is like one of the innumerable, infinitesimal particles of sunlight which emanate from Him. As individual spiritual sparks, we are distinct from the Supreme and He is distinct from us – yet we are eternally, intimately related with each other.

This intimacy of relatedness between ourselves and the Supreme Person actually goes far beyond what can be intellectually grasped from this metaphor. The relationship between the sun globe and the particles of light emanating from the sun globe is impersonal. But the relationship between the Supreme Person and each and every one of us is absolutely personal – and the foundation and essence of these relationships is love.

When we speak of Krishna, we’re speaking of the perfect friend.” ~Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa

Living in loving harmony with Krishna is our natural condition. When we are again linked up with Krishna in love, in yoga, we experience transcendental bliss (ananda). Yoga means to be united with, linked up with, the Supreme Person in a condition of pure love (bhakti).

When we begin hearing about Krishna, seeing pictures of Him, and hearing and singing His Names, our natural attraction for Krishna is awakened. Krishna literally means “the all-attractive Person.” As the origin, foundation, and center of our existence, as the dearmost, loving Friend of all, Krishna has a special, unique, eternal relationship with each and every one of us – with all living beings. It is this relationship with Krishna that draws us to Him, that inspires us to seek Him, even if we are not consciously aware of this attraction.

Often, in the material world, our attraction for Krishna is misdirected toward things and people of this world. So we may unconsciously look for Krishna, our eternal Friend, Lord, and Beloved, in relationships of this world. But because none of these things or other living beings are Krishna, we are never fully satisfied. However, when we come into contact with Krishna through His transcendental Names, forms, instructions, and devotees, our consciousness becomes purified – and thus we are able to awaken to the realization that it is Krishna who we have been seeking all along.

who is Krishna natural living symasundara-crop

This may be an immediate and very tangible awakening, or a subtle awakening that unfolds over many years, or even lifetimes – but the awakening is there. And because our attraction for Krishna is such a core aspect of our being, because it is so deeply pleasurable and nourishing, we follow this attraction. We consciously choose to put ourselves in environments where we can continue to see pictures of Krishna, to hear about Him, to hear His names, glories, and instructions – and to associate with others who are also knowingly attracted to Him.

When we do this, not only our attraction blossoms, but also our remembrance of Krishna, our relationship with Him, and our love for Him blossoms more and more. Directly, consciously, experiencing this loving relationship with Krishna is the perfection of happiness for the living being. There is no happiness higher than this anywhere, in all of existence. It is the Supreme Treasure of all treasures. The deep spiritual happiness of consciously, lovingly reconnecting, reuniting with our Supreme Friend is the nectar we long for within the very core of our being.

Out of His love for us, Krishna is constantly giving us opportunities to remember Him, and love Him again. For this day and age, the primary method that He gives us to reunite with Him is through hearing and chanting His transcendental Names. In yoga, this is called Mantra Meditation. These Names of God are not ordinary, mundane sound, but are, in fact, Krishna Himself appearing in the form of spiritual sound vibration. Krishna’s Names originate in the spiritual realm and descend to the material platform without losing any potency – having been handed down orally for countless centuries via an unbroken chain of bonafide spiritual masters.

O my Lord, Your Holy Name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental Names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these Names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your Holy Names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.” ~Sri Śikṣāṣṭakam, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

By first hearing Krishna’s Names through an authentic source, then repeating them, our dormant relationship of love with Krishna can eventually be fully re-established. Names which relate with Him in very intimate and endearing ways, such as Krishna, Gopala, Govinda, Rama, Madana-Mohana, Gauranga are especially potent in awakening the dormant love for God which resides within our heart of hearts. If we want to very deeply, intimately, and directly know who is Krishna, then the best and most essential method is through regularly, daily, hearing and chanting or singing these Names.

Although there are no hard and fast rules for hearing and chanting the Names of the Supreme Person, the most spiritually potent way of practicing yoga mantra meditation is through the congregational hearing and chanting of God’s Names – which is called kirtan or sankirtan. In kirtan, two or more people gather together to hear and chant or sing the Names aloud. Often a call and response format is used, and it is common for the chanting to be accompanied by musical instruments, and even dancing.

Not only is kirtan the most powerful way to awaken our loving remembrance of Krishna, but it is also very easy and fun for people of all ages and abilities to participate in. Naturally, people like to get together with friends and family, play music together, sing, and dance. When we dovetail these natural tendencies for the purpose of coming to know and love God, they become an immeasurably beneficial spiritual activity. Through kirtan, we can all help each other to reconnect with our Supreme Friend Krishna and become truly happy and fulfilled.

The yoga scriptures clearly state that it is only by coming in contact with Krishna’s Names, that our dormant love for Him can be fully awakened. And it is only through loving Krishna, that we can truly come to know Him – purely, directly, as He is.

who is krsna naturally living flute

I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, round whose neck is swinging a garland of flowers beautified with the moon-locket, whose two hands are adorned with the flute and jeweled ornaments, who always revels in pastimes of love, whose graceful threefold-bending form of Śyāmasundara is eternally manifest.” ~Śrī Brahmasaḿhitā 5.31

For more on Krishna, I highly recommend the article Who Is Krishna by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa

And for videos, articles, and more on Kirtan, Bhakti Yoga, and related subjects, I highly recommend visiting: http://wisdom.yoga/

 

Developing A Personal Relationship With God Through Bhakti Yoga

A photo by Barbara Hegler. unsplash.com/photos/7WSlka25cJM

In general, what comes to mind when we hear the word “yoga” has very little to do with the original meaning of yoga. These days, the common perception of yoga is mostly related to the physical asana practice which has become very popular in modern times. Thus, when we hear the word yoga, we typically think of attractive people with fit, strong bodies in various bending poses. But, actually, this has very little to do with the original meaning of yoga.

So what is yoga?

Yoga is our natural state of loving relationship with the Supreme Person.

When we look to the ancient yoga scriptures (the Vedas), we find that yoga means “union” or “the linking up” of two individuals. Specifically, in the yoga system, yoga refers to the relationship between the individual person (jiva atma) and the Supreme Person (Paramatma) that is our most natural condition. It is explained in the Vedas that there are innumerable individual spiritual beings in existence. Out of all the spiritual beings in existence, there is one being who is superior to all the other beings. He alone is Supreme and all others are subordinate to, and dependent upon, Him. The Supreme spiritual being, or God, is called Paramatma and the subordinate spiritual beings (all of us) are called jiva atmas. In our natural state of being, we (the jiva atmas) are linked up very intimately and joyfully in a relationship of love (yoga) with the Supreme Person.

In the material world, most of us are not in our natural state.

Unfortunately, here in the material world, most of us are not in our natural state of being. When we are first born into this material dimension, our consciousness is immediately covered by forgetfulness (avidya). Our spiritual form is covered by a material mind and body, and our awareness of our spiritual nature is covered by the mistaken belief that we are these material bodies we are wearing.

In fact, we tend to forget nearly everything about who we are, where we came from, what our natural position and purpose is in life. We forget the millions of past lives we have already had in this material dimension since we first came here long ago. We even forget our innate relationship with the Supreme Person, the very foundation and source of our existence. Although the Supreme Person is our closest relative and eternally our dearmost beloved Friend, we forget Him. We forget our relationship with Him and all the vivid details of what He is like – His form, character, pastimes, what it feels like to be loving Him and to feel His love for us. Many of us forget Him so completely, we do not even acknowledge His existence. He is the most important Person in every way, the Source and maintainer of everything, and yet we more or less completely forget Him. This is the powerful influence that material nature has upon us.

Due to forgetfulness of our eternal relationship with God, we experience deep emptiness.

Due to our forgetfulness of our eternal relationship with God, we suffer immensely in this world. We feel a deep and painful emptiness in our heart of hearts, a persistent loneliness, an inexplicable sadness and dissatisfaction. Intuitively, we know something essential is missing from our lives. But because awareness of our spiritual nature is covered, it is very difficult for us to ascertain what is the actual root cause of this emptiness. Thus, we erroneously try fill it with material objects, experiences, and relationships of this world. This causes us to become even more deeply entangled within the world of materiality, even more thoroughly covered in forgetfulness of our true nature. In this way, we wander further and further from an actual solution to our suffering.

To return to our natural state, we need to revive our lost relationship of love with the Supreme Person.

However, if we recognize that we cannot fill this deep spiritual emptiness with material things, then we can instead devote our time and energy to filling it with what is actually needed – the restoration of our lost relationship of love with God. In order to do this, we must develop a very real, tangible, and profoundly personal close loving relationship with the Supreme Person. We cannot just join a group, speculate about Him, or externally go through the motions of having a relationship with Him. We need to be actually relating with Him again as our dearmost Friend – embracing Him in our hearts and lives, looking to Him for comfort and direction, completely taking shelter in Him, trying to serve Him, to please Him, out of genuine love for Him.

But how can we have a profoundly personal and deeply loving relationship with someone we cannot even remember? Due to our situation of forgetfulness under the influence of material nature, He may seem almost like a stranger to us – distant, vague, unobtainable. How can we love someone we have almost entirely forgotten?

Our answer is in the yoga process known as bhakti yoga. The yoga scriptures explain that although we have forgotten God and our intimate relationship with Him, He has not forgotten us. Our relationship with Him has not been dissolved by our estrangement from Him. Rather, it is covered, dormant. Through following the process of bhakti yoga as it is clearly laid out for us in yoga scriptures, this relationship can be uncovered and awakened.

Bhakti yoga is the most direct path to knowing and loving God.

Bhakti yoga is the very heart and soul of the entire yoga system. The yoga scriptures (the Vedas) are a vast treasury of knowledge, within which many different processes for purification and spiritual advancement are described. But the essence of all these processes – and, indeed, the essence and purpose of the entire Vedas – is contained within the yoga process known as bhakti yoga.

Bhakti yoga is the Supreme Person’s direct instruction to us on how we can come to know and love Him again. It is the most swift and direct path to complete restoration of our natural eternal relationship with Him. The Supreme Person freely gives us this instruction out of His kindness and love for us. In the yoga scriptures, He tells us exactly what to do. He makes things very clear, simple, and accessible for us, so that if we are sincere, we will be successful.

The essence of bhakti yoga is in hearing and chanting the Names of the Supreme Person.

The essence, and central activity, of bhakti yoga is in the hearing and repeating of the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person. In the yoga system, this is called Mantra Meditation.

The Names of the Supreme Person are not ordinary sound. They are, in fact, the Supreme Person Himself appearing in this world in the form of spiritual sound vibration. Thus, every time we hear and chant or sing the Names of God, we are putting ourselves in direct contact with Him. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness. Every time we come in contact with God through hearing or chanting His Names, the forgetfulness that clouds our consciousness, that keeps us from remembering our true nature and eternal relationship with Him, is steadily dissipated.

By hearing or chanting God’s Names, we are inviting Him back into our hearts, and into our lives. We are humbly praying to Him to help us know and love Him again. Approaching Him in this way, sincerely desiring to revive our close friendship with Him, our memory Him quickly begins to return and our love for Him, to blossom.

Because we have become so deeply conditioned by material life, this is generally a gradual process. But through the regular, daily, hearing and repeating of God’s Names – especially Names which relate with Him in very endearing ways, such as Krsna, Govinda, Gopala, Rama, Gauranga – our consciousness is steadily purified, and we are able to deeply know and love Him again as our dearmost beloved eternal Friend.

If knowing and loving God is what we sincerely desire, then bhakti yoga will enable us to do so.

Bhakti yoga is a practical, potent, and invaluable process for understanding and developing our personal relationship with the Supreme Person. Although oftentimes anything having to do with God is automatically categorized as a religion, bhakti yoga is not a religion. It has nothing to do with external labels or joining an organization. It is the most wonderful, transcendental gift of love from our Supreme Friend. It is divine assistance for reawakening, restoring, our most special and sacred of relationships. If we humbly choose to take this assistance, to hold it close in our hearts and to apply it in our lives with earnestness and care, we will experience the sweetest of fruits. If knowing and loving God is what we sincerely desire, then bhakti yoga will enable us to do so.

Through bhakti yoga, through hearing and chanting or singing the Names of the Supreme Person, the deep emptiness and longing within our heart of hearts can at last be fulfilled. And we can return to our original, purified state of absolute happiness, satisfaction, and the most exquisite, blissful, transcendental condition of divine love. This condition, wherein we are wholeheartedly engaged in loving exchange with our Supreme Friend – where we are joyfully reunited with Him in heart, mind, and will – is yoga in the truest sense of the word. And it is our most natural condition.

“Pure love for the Lord is eternally established in the hearts of the living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, this love naturally awakens.”
~ Sri Caitanya-caritamrta-Madhya-lila 22.107

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Understanding Death in the Light of Yoga Wisdom

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Death is not a subject that is commonly talked about. In fact, most of us make it a point to avoid talking about death because we do not really know how to talk about it without feeling uneasy or even fearful. But to the yogi, death is not something to fear. Rather, it is an important event in our life path that can and should be thought about, talked about, and correctly understood so that we can approach it with wisdom and foresight.

So, what is death?

To understand what death is, we must first have a understanding of who we are.

We are eternally alive spiritual beings clothed in a material body. According to the ancient yoga scriptures – and all the bonafide scriptures of the world – we are eternal spiritual individuals who are temporarily clothed in a material mind and body. The gross physical body is like an outer layer of clothing and the mind, or subtle body, is like an under layer of clothing.

Just like the actual clothes (shirt, pants, undergarments, etc.) we are wearing at this moment are inanimate, non-living objects, so, too, the material mind and body we are wearing are also inanimate, non-living objects. They appear “alive” for some time because we – the living spiritual person – is inhabiting them for a certain amount of time. When the spiritual individual leaves the physical body, it no longer appears alive. It is an empty shell.

Death is when we leave our current physical body behind, like an empty shell. So death, then, can be described as the event during which we, the eternally alive spiritual individual, leaves our current physical body. Death, or our leaving the physical body, is not the end of our existence – rather, we continue on in our journey of life.

Knowing we are eternally alive spiritual beings and will not die when our body “dies” is an immense relief for us because intuitively we know that being alive, existing, is our natural condition. As spiritual beings, we are always alive. There is no point at which we cease to exist. We have always existed and will continue to exist always.

Knowing we will still be alive after we leave our body at death frees us from anxiety. The reason we find the whole idea of death so unnatural and disturbing is because it is opposite of our natural condition. When we erroneously take ourselves and others to be the physical body, we cause ourselves tremendous anxiety and suffering with the false belief that we will cease to exist some day. When we realize the truth of the situation, we are freed of this anxiety and suffering.

Knowing we are eternal and will never die or cease existing leads us to our next important question about death – where do we go when we leave our current physical body?

Where we go when we leave our current physical body. The answer to this question is a great mystery for material scientists because they have only material instruments and information to work with. They cannot track spiritual energy or speculate correctly about the journey of the spiritual being after he leaves the physical body. Thus, they tend either to just write this off as something that cannot be known or put out false conclusions about death as the end of our existence. Neither of these conclusions are correct.

We can actually know about our journey after we leave the physical body at death through inquiring into what the authoritative scriptures of the world have to tell us about it. The yoga scriptures (Vedas), in particular, contain very detailed information on this subject.

According to the yoga scriptures, where we go when we leave our physical body is determined by our state of consciousness at the time when we leave that body. According to our state of consciousness, we will either remain in the material dimension and take birth again in another physical body – or we will return to our true home in the spiritual realm.

Reincarnation – taking birth in another material body. If we are very attached to material life, then we will remain in this material dimension. If we leave our body clinging to material desires, objects, and the idea that we can be perfectly happy and fulfilled through the temporary situations and forms of the material world, we will be provided with the opportunity to continue in this mode of life. If we have karmic reaction accumulated, we will need a material body to receive the results. We will take on another gross physical body according to these factors, which are held in the mind, or subtle body. Unlike the physical body, the subtle body continues to cover us when we leave our gross physical body, and it shapes the type of body we take on when we reincarnate in the material world. Perhaps we will take on another human body, or perhaps a plant or animal body. With this new physical body covering us, we will start the cycle all over again.

Why reincarnation is undesirable. We may think that being reborn over and over again in different species of life might be fun or interesting, but actually it is not. We do not usually retain memory of our past lives, nor any knowledge of our eternal nature – we simply get caught up, over and over again, in the dramas and traumas of each lifetime. We continue to experience the miseries of birth, disease, old age, and death, we just have a different body with which to experience them. Material life has us endlessly running in circles, chasing after a false promise of happiness that can never be fulfilled through material experiences because we are not made of material energy. We are like a fish out of water in the material dimension. It is not our natural environment.

Returning to our natural home in the spiritual abode. As spiritual beings, our natural environment is in the spiritual abode. The spiritual abode is not an imaginary realm of clouds and winged people – it is a real place which exists beyond the material dimension. There are detailed descriptions of it in the yoga scriptures. It is a realm filled with all varieties of living beings existing in their natural spiritual forms and relating with the Supreme Person in their natural loving relationships with Him. It it is called “Vaikuntha” in the yoga scriptures. Vaikuntha means “without anxiety.” Unlike the material world, beings living there do not experience any anxiety because they are perfectly happy and fulfilled in their life and relationship with the Supreme Person. Because we are so used to life in the material world, we cannot even imagine how such a life of complete happiness, complete freedom from anxiety, is possible. But it is. It is our natural state of being and is part and parcel of existing in our natural environment. Even while still inhabiting our current physical body, we can taste this perfect happiness and know that it is real through the practice of bhakti yoga.

Linking up with the Supreme Person and the spiritual abode through bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga is devotional service to the Supreme Person. The individual spiritual person links up with the God, the Supreme Spiritual Person, through consciously reviving our natural loving relationship with Him. Through bhakti yoga practice, we cultivate our innate love for the Supreme Person, and it is this active cultivation of sincere and profound devotion to Him which links us up with Him. The more fully we are linked up with Him in heart and will, the more our consciousness becomes spiritualized. In this way, we can actually experience being in the spiritual world and tasting the happiness of it, even while inhabiting our current physical body. And when we leave this physical body at the end of this lifetime, we go to our Supreme Friend in the spiritual abode and continue our relationship with Him there, rather than returning to the material dimension.

Awakening love for God through Mantra Meditation. The heart and soul of bhakti yoga practice is yoga Mantra Meditation – the hearing and chanting or singing of the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person. The Names of the Supreme Person are not ordinary sound vibrations. They are, in fact, the Supreme Person Himself appearing in this world in the form of spiritual sound. The Supreme Person appears in this world as His Names in order to give us the opportunity to reconnect with Him. When we hear and chant or sing His Names, we are actually placing our self directly in His presence. This has a profoundly beneficial effect on us. It purifies our consciousness of material influence and awakens the dormant spiritual love for God which resides within our hearts.

By regularly, daily hearing and repeating the Names of the Supreme Person, our minds and hearts become increasingly attracted and attached to Him. The more we welcome Him into our lives through His Names, the more tangibly we feel His sweet, comforting, loving presence in our hearts. Naturally, our affection for Him grows, and we derive transcendental happiness from our blossoming friendship with Him.

Tasting the higher happiness of our spiritual nature and relationship with God frees us from material consciousness. The more intimately we are linked with God, the more we are able to remember our true spiritual nature, and so distance ourselves from the temporary world of materiality. Being intimately linked with the Supreme Person through constantly hearing and repeating His Names, thinking about Him, relating with Him personally, cultivating our love for Him, affectionately serving Him, and so on, insulates us from the influence of the material energy. Instead of being painfully attached to temporary material objects and situations, we are joyfully, lovingly attached to our friendship with the Supreme Person. Through our loving relations with Him, we are already experiencing the higher happiness of being linked with the spiritual realm, even while living in our current physical body – and we happily return there when our time in this current material body comes to an end.

Resting our hearts in the Names of God carries us Home. This is why death is not fearful to the enlightened yogi. And why it does not have to be a fearful experience for us either. When it is clear to us that we are choosing through our actions in this life, the circumstances for our next life, we will not waste a moment in pursuit of trivial things. We will approach both life and death consciously, with wisdom. We will hear and chant or sing the Names of our eternal Best Friend at every opportunity, resting our hearts in this sublime sound, knowing it is bringing us ever closer to the life we long for.

And when we are compelled by old age, disease, or accident to leave our current body, our dear Friend’s sweet Names will carry us onward. We will not be leaving home and everything we love. Rather, we will be going Home to the Lord of our Heart and the world of endless love that joyfully awaits our return.

 

Here are some relevant quotes from the Bhagavad-gita (Song of God). The Bhagavad-gita is one of the most authoritative of all yoga scriptures.

For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.“ ~Bhagavad-gita 2.20

As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change. ~Bhagavad-gita 2.13

To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. ~Bhagavad-gita 10.10

One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God. ~Bhagavad-gita 18.55

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing


Knowing God As Our Best Friend

knowing God Best Friend Natural Living bhakti yoga woman lotus flower-crop2Everyone is searching for a best friend. We long to share our life with another person, to have the shelter, intimacy, and happiness of a close loving friendship. And so we spend our lives searching for the perfect person, the perfect friend. This longing for a best friend – to be engaged in a deeply loving relationship with another person – is common to us all because it originates from our eternal spiritual nature.

Every bonafide scripture in the world tells us that we are not material beings – but, rather, that we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily living within the material body. Both the gross physical body and the mind (subtle body) are layers of material energy that cover us, like clothes. As spiritual beings, we remain always distinct, separate, from our material coverings. Although we can become so enamored by our external trappings that we may erroneously take our self to be the material mind and body we are wearing, we never actually become them. This is simply a case of mistaken identity. We are constitutionally, eternally, spiritual.

As eternal spiritual beings, we long for a friendship that is also eternal and spiritual in nature. Specifically, we long for a loving friendship with the very source and foundation of our existence – the Supreme Person. God, the Supreme Person, is our closest relative and eternally our most intimate Friend. In truth, no one can be closer to us than Him. We come from Him, are made of His energies, and our very existence rests upon His existence. Our eternal relationship with Him is compared to the sun globe and the particles of sunlight which emanate from the sun globe. The Supreme Person is like the sun globe and each of us is like one of the innumerable, infinitesimal particles of sunlight which emanate from Him. As individual spiritual sparks, we are distinct from the Supreme and He is distinct from us – yet we are eternally, intimately related with each other.

This intimacy of relatedness between ourselves and the Supreme Person actually goes far beyond what can be intellectually grasped from this metaphor. The relationship between the sun globe and the particles of light emanating from the sun globe is impersonal. But the relationship between the Supreme Person and each and every one of us is absolutely personal – and the foundation and essence of these relationships is love.

Constitutionally, we are so intimately related with, and dependent upon, the Supreme Person that we cannot actually be separated from Him. However, we can – and do – fall into the illusion that we can live separately, independently, from Him when we come into this material world. The separation that occurs is not a factual separation – rather, it is a separation of consciousness. We have the experience of being estranged from the Supreme Person due to the clouded condition of our consciousness.

When we come into this material realm, we are immediately covered by layers of material energy. Our spiritual form is covered by a material form – a material mind and body – and our consciousness, our awareness, is covered by a thick fog of forgetfulness (avidya). Immersed in such unnatural and bewildering circumstances, we forget our spiritual nature and what our life was like before coming into this material dimension. And thus divorced from our true identity, we fully believe we are the material bodies we are wearing and define our life in these very limited and misconceived terms. We forget everything about our spiritual origins, including our Supreme Friend.

Although the Supreme Person is our closest relative, dearmost Friend, and the very Source and foundation for our existence, we forget Him. Sometimes we are so bewildered by the influence of our material environment, that we do not even acknowledge His existence. And even if we do acknowledge His existence, we forget what He is like. We do not remember His qualities, what He looks like, the sound of His voice, the beauty of His smile, what it feels like to be loving Him and to feel the sublime sweetness of His love for us. He is eternally our dearmost beloved Best Friend and our most intimate companion, yet we do not remember even the smallest details about Him.

Not only do we forget everything we know about Him and our eternal relationship with Him, but we fail even to see or sense His presence in our lives, in our very hearts – even though He is always there. Each person experiences this clouded condition of consciousness to different degrees, but, in general, our memory of the Supreme Person – and the vivid details of His form, character, qualities, pastimes, relationships, and so on – become lost. This is the immensely powerful covering influence which material nature has upon us.

However, even though our awareness becomes so thoroughly subverted by the influence of our material environment that we forget our spiritual identity and relationship with the Supreme Person, our original spiritual qualities and tendencies remain. They are covered, hidden, suppressed, dormant, but they are permanently situated in the core of our heart. In our heart of our hearts, we experience an unquenchable longing for our forgotten relationship of loving intimacy with our Supreme Friend – and it is this innate spiritual longing that inspires us to continue searching for this lost love until we find it.

When we try to satisfy our innate spiritual longing for the Supreme Person through relationships with other embodied spiritual sparks, we are frustrated, disappointed, and heart-broken time and time again, lifetime after lifetime. This is not to say that we cannot have sweet and genuinely affectionate friendships with other living beings – but if we are looking for the supreme spiritual love that we are longing for in our heart of hearts with anyone other than the Supreme Person, we will be inevitably disappointed. Even the sweetest, most kind and caring friendships we may be so fortunate to find in this world with other embodied beings, cannot satisfy our innate spiritual longing for loving relationship with our Supreme Friend. It is an altogether entirely different category of love and friendship than is possible with ordinary living beings.

So how can we recover our memory of our spiritual origins and revive our lost relationship of loving friendship with the Supreme Person?

Fortunately, our Supreme Friend knows our predicament and gives us invaluable instruction in the bonafide scriptures of the world. In the ancient yoga scriptures (the Vedas), in particular, we are given very clear, detailed, and practical directions that we can immediately begin applying to our lives in order to rectify our situation. We are told exactly how we can consciously link up again with the Supreme Person, realize our true nature, and actively cultivate a very tangible, personal, intimate, sweet and loving friendship with Him.

The method prescribed by the yoga scriptures for this day and age is called Mantra Meditation. Mantra Meditation is the hearing and repeating of the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person. This simple yet immeasurably potent yogic practice is the essence of all yoga practice. And it is the only means necessary to achieve full spiritual self-realization and God-realization in this modern age. It is completely accessible to people of all ages and abilities – and if we earnestly, faithfully engage regularly in this yoga practice, we are assured by the Supreme Person Himself of ultimate success.

Although the Names of the Supreme Person may, at first, seem like ordinary material sound vibrations, they are not. Rather, they are the Supreme Person directly appearing in this world in the form of pure spiritual sound vibration. The Supreme appears in this world as His Names in order to allow the living beings in this world the opportunity to remember Him – to consciously reconnect with Him and reawaken to our natural condition of conscious loving relationship with Him.

Through regularly, daily, welcoming Him into our hearts by hearing and repeating His Names, our consciousness gradually becomes purified of material influence. As the coverings of material forgetfulness that cloud our hearts and minds are steadily dissipated, our original spiritual condition is revealed more and more. We begin to remember our dearmost Supreme Friend and experience the familiar sweet joy of His presence in our hearts.

With this growing remembrance, naturally, we become happy in affectionately relating with Him, and eager to have Him fully back in our lives. This happiness and eagerness continues to increase in intensity and eventually blossoms into the most blissful, sublime, and wondrous of friendships. Our hearts are at last able find the complete rest, joy, fulfillment, and perfect friendship we have been longing for in loving relationship with our eternal Friend.

Existing in a state of deep and abiding love for the Supreme Person is our most natural condition. It is upon this foundation of spiritual love with the Supreme that our entire life becomes an expression of unconditional love, and all relationships we have with others become expansions of this love. When we consciously know and love the Supreme Person as our Best Friend, then naturally, we relate with  our spiritual siblings (all living beings) as friends. Thus, we gain, not only one lost Friend, but the ability to genuinely become a loving friend to all.

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Who am I? Realizing our Eternal Position and Function

 Who am I eternal position function flowers-girl-heart-nature-

We have talked at length about the importance of knowing our true essence – of understanding that we are not the material mind or body, but are, in fact, the eternal spiritual self (atma) who is temporarily wearing these material coverings. Understanding that we are made of spiritual energy, not material, is the vital first step in the full realization of our true identity, but it does not give us a complete picture of who we are.

In order to fully know ourselves, and therefore know how we can be completely happy and fulfilled, we must also come to realize two other aspects of our identity – position and function.

Because we recognize that we are eternal spiritual beings, we can understand that our true identity has nothing to do with the features of our mind and body, nor anything material. As these material features are just temporary, external factors, they have nothing to do with who we really are.

In order to know who we are, we need to become aware of our eternal position and eternal function. Eternal characteristics do not vary from lifetime to lifetime. They are unchangeable, innate, absolute features of our being and therefore remain constant throughout the continual flux taking place in the material environment

If we want to know the Absolute Truth, the best place to look for answers is in the bona fide scriptures of the world. It is in these scriptures that we can find eternal truths about our nature, including our intrinsic relationship with the Supreme.

When we look to the authoritative scriptures of the world, we find that our eternal position is that of being subordinate to the Supreme. The yoga scriptures describe that there are innumerable individual spiritual beings in existence. Out of all the spiritual beings in existence, there is one being who is superior to all the other beings. He alone is Supreme and all others are subordinate to Him. The Supreme spiritual being, or God, is called Paramatma and the subordinate spiritual beings are called jiva atmas. We are jiva atmas, individual spirit souls who are dependent upon and subordinate to the Supreme. The Supreme Person has unlimited power and control. We have very limited power.

Again, these are eternal realities, eternal truths. If something is eternally true, that means it is true always. So, when we look at the world – at our experiences and the experiences of the rest of jiva atmas here – what we see supports these truths.

It is very obvious that even the most powerful of us is limited in the larger scheme of things. When we look at the big picture, we can understand that there is relatively little that we can control. We have either very limited or no control over other living beings, the weather, the environment, the physical laws of nature, and so on. We even have trouble controlling our own bodies and minds – and whatever control we do manage to exert is temporary. It diminishes in old age, ultimately to the degree that we cannot even keep our bodies in livable condition. When we look at the practical evidence, it is clear that we are not the supreme controller.

If we are not aware of our natural position, then we will look for happiness elsewhere. For many people, the fact that we are not able to have a high degree of control over our lives and the world around us is very frustrating and frightening. We become wrongly convinced that our only possibility for happiness is in gaining as much control as possible and using that control to try to create situations that we believe will bring us happiness. In other words, we try to take on the role of supreme controller. However, because this is not our natural position, there is no real happiness in it. We can only be happy in our natural condition. Trying to assume a position that is unnatural for us simply leads to endless anxiety and suffering.

However, when we fully understand that our natural position is as a subordinate to the Supreme, we have no problem with serving Him. In fact, we derive immeasurable transcendental bliss and satisfaction in trying to please Him with our lives. We have an innate love for the Supreme Person and He has an innate love for us – and when we become aware of our natural inclination to serve and please Him, and we willingly cultivate this tendency, our love for Him is awakened and flourishes.

Even a tiny taste of the transcendental happiness that comes from the experience of loving service to the Supreme Person, far surpasses all pleasure we are capable of experiencing from any other activity. This is because it is our natural function, our eternal function (sanatana-dharma). By sincerely attempting to serve and please God with our lives, our relationship with Him blossoms, and our love for Him grows.

Bhakti Yoga is the science of perfecting our love for God through devotional service to Him. In the ancient yoga scriptures, it is very clearly explained what devotional service is and how each of us can begin practicing devotional service immediately, regardless of personal skills, intellectual ability, or other qualifications. Devotional service is an activity that anyone can engage in. It is our most natural activity.

In this day and age, the primary means of rendering devotional service to the Supreme Person is through the hearing and repeating of His transcendental Names. (In the yoga system, this is called Mantra Meditation.) These Names are completely pure, spiritual sound vibrations, non-different from God – so when we are hearing, chanting, or singing them, we are directly associating with the Supreme. The more we come into the direct presence of God in this way, the more our consciousness becomes purified – and we are able to actually perceive the presence of the Supreme Person in His Names and in our hearts. Gradually, our relationship with the Supreme becomes more tangible to us and our affection for Him deepens and grows into the sweetest, most beautiful and fulfilling of friendships.

Nothing feels so completely right, joyful, liberating, and life-affirming as being able to be our self in the truest sense of the words. All of the anxiety, confusion, and other forms of suffering that we experience in this world are due to our forgetfulness of our true identity and innate loving relationship with the Supreme. Once we are reestablished in our eternal position and function – in purely loving, serving, and relating with God as our Best Friend – we can again know what it is like to truly live naturally.

For information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

 

Finding Real Happiness

be yourself natural living yoga wisdom

We are all searching for happiness. Every step we take, every choice we make, is with the hope or expectation that it will bring us happiness. There is never a time when we choose with the hope of finding suffering. Always, we are seeking happiness. It may be instantaneous happiness that we are focused on, or future happiness, but always we are wanting the end result of our efforts to be happiness.

Moreover, we are not just wanting a little bit of happiness here and there – happiness that is tepid and superficial. We are not just seeking happiness that lasts for a few moments, a few hours, or even a few years. We want happiness that completely satisfies us to the very core of our being and never fades away. We long to be immersed in happiness that is so all-encompassing that there is no way for us to fall out of it. What we truly desire is to be perfectly and permanently situated in happiness.

But how can we expect to find such happiness when we take instruction on happiness from those who do not know where to find it either. So many people want to instruct us on happiness – parents, relatives, teachers, friends, social network acquaintances, celebrities, advertisers – even our own minds want to instruct us on happiness. But who amongst them have actually found the pure and boundless happiness that we seek?

If we are sincerely wanting to know how to be established in real and lasting happiness, we need to look to the bona fide scriptures of the world. For it is in these scriptures, written by and about saintly persons who are actually permanently situated in perfect happiness, that we will find instructions on how we, too, can realize this level of perfection.

In the Vedic scriptures it is clearly explained that the reason we are constantly frustrated in our attempts to find perfect and permanent happiness is because we are looking in the wrong place for it. We are attempting to obtain this perfect and permanent happiness in terms of material objects and situations, but everything that is made of material energy, by nature, is imperfect and impermanent. All things material must come to an end sooner or later – even the bodies that we wear – so we can never find perfection and permanence through material objects or situations.

So then where can we find the happiness we are seeking?

To understand the answer to this question, we must first realize that we are not made of material energy. Our minds and bodies are made of material energy – but we are not our mind and body. We are eternal spiritual beings that are only temporarily wearing these coverings. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.

When we are convinced that we are the material “clothes” we are wearing, then we search for happiness and fulfillment within the material concept of life – within the realm of the material mind and physical senses. We relate to people, objects, situations, anything we encounter – even our own self – in terms of how they are perceived by our mind and physical senses. When we do this, we do not see or relate to anything as it is, rather, all that we encounter is reduced to that which is within the very limited and inherently flawed perception of the material mind and senses. In this distorted state of consciousness, we completely miss the actual purport of our existence. We do not experience the incredible richness and sublime sweetness of our true calling – and we cannot engage in life with the deep understanding, reverence, joy, and love that is possible when we are actually in full knowledge of our spiritual identity.  

If we want the life that we long for in our heart of hearts, then we must seek to understand ourselves in terms of our spiritual identity. We have innate spiritual tendencies and qualities, but they have become covered through living under the influence of material nature. By engaging in a genuine process of spiritual realization in direct association with our spiritual Source, our consciousness can become purified. As the material influence on our consciousness is dissipated, our true nature – our spiritual nature – becomes revealed.

In the ancient yoga system, the recommended method for spiritual realization and consciously linking up with our spiritual Source is mantra meditation. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

Through mantra meditation, our hearts and minds are gradually purified of material misconceptions, and we are able to increasingly taste the divine sweetness of our true nature. With sincere, daily practice, materially-distorted perceptions gradually fall away and our inherent spiritual nature is revealed. The more we awaken to our spiritual identity and the loving relationship with the Supreme that is inseparable from it, the more we naturally return to an existence that is in complete harmony with all that is.

To be in complete harmony with the Absolute reality is our natural condition. When we are situated in our natural condition – perceiving, and relating to, all beings and all situations from the platform of fully realized spiritual consciousness – we not only are established in happiness, but we radiate it from our very core. It is only when our consciousness is entangled in material misconception that we are away from our true nature and so cannot experience this innate, radiant joy. However, when our consciousness becomes purified through mantra meditation, we are reunited with the Absolute truth and thus are re-situated in the boundless wonder, beauty, and pure unadulterated bliss of our being. This is real happiness – and it is our natural condition.

For more information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

The Joy of Forgiveness

joy of forgiveness happy woman natural living

It is inevitable that we will have the experience of being wronged, hurt, or offended in some way by another human being. Moreover, it is likely an experience we will have over and over again throughout our lives. It is not that we and others are generally trying to offend and hurt as many people as possible – it is simply that we are often so focused on ourselves, that we are completely unaware of the effects that our actions are having on others. Or perhaps we are somewhat aware, but see the path we are taking as necessary to our survival or happiness. In any case, we are offending others, others are offending us, and together we can be caught in an endless cycle of hurt and revenge – or we can choose to free ourselves (and others to some degree) through forgiveness.

When we hold on to the hurt we feel over something that someone has done or said that we see as offensive (whether or not it actually is), we are essentially keeping ourselves in the pain of that experience. The actual offense may have only happened once – but when we hold on to it, we experience the pain of it over and over again. It is like we are holding on to a piece of hot coal that someone has placed in our hand. We can choose to drop it, but instead we hold on to it and continue to suffer.

Now why in the world would we do such a thing?

Because as we are holding on to that hot coal that is burning our flesh – that is burning our hearts – we are under the impression that it is burning our offender, as well. It is our desire to hurt this other person who we believe has hurt us that keeps us unnecessarily holding on to the painful thoughts and emotions.

Wanting others to suffer is not our true nature. When we are in this state of desiring to see others suffer, we need to be able to recognize that this desire does not come from us, the spirit soul within the body. It comes from somewhere foreign to us – from the world of materiality – and must be rejected if we sincerely desire to experience our true loving nature.

We cannot grow weeds in our hearts and think that we will have room for love to grow there, too. We cannot cultivate a selfish desire to hurt others and think that selfless love will blossom. It is not possible.

There is absolutely nothing worthwhile to be gained in the suffering of others and absolutely everything worthwhile to be gained for all of life in freeing ourselves – and others whenever possible – from the suffering condition caused by lack of mercy, lack of compassion, lack of love.

In order to be spiritually healthy, we must allow forgiveness to travel unhindered through its natural pathways in our heart. Forgiveness – which is inseparable from love – is life to our heart, to our very being. If we stifle our innate tendency toward forgiveness, toward mercy, we invite disease into our heart. If we withhold it completely, we invite death. Not that we can die in a sense that we no longer exist, but by keeping ourselves from forgiveness, from love, we cover our true nature so completely that it is almost like we are dead inside.

As there is yogic practice to support the healthy flow of vital physical forces throughout the body, there is also yogic practice to support the natural healthy flow of spiritual love in the heart. Bhakti yoga is yoga of the heart. Through bhakti yoga, a person cultivates selfless love, spiritual love, and the merciful nature that is inseparable from it.

Through sincere, daily practice of any of the bhakti yoga meditations we discussed in earlier articles (Kirtan, Japa Yoga, and Gauranga Breathing), you will find that forgiveness comes more easily, spontaneously, and naturally to you. You will find that you really like forgiving others – that it brings incredible deep joy to your heart and lightness to your being. This is often a gradual process, but well worth the effort.

Forgiveness in its purest form is selfless service. When, out of actual concern for the well-being of another, you sincerely choose to forgive or overlook their offenses toward you, you naturally benefit because love grows in your heart. And with it, naturally, there is joy, there is peace, there is the freedom of being true to our self – of being our true self.

 

Here are some quotes on Forgiveness to inspire you:

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.
George MacDonald

To err is human; to forgive, divine.
Alexander Pope

One forgives to the degree that one loves.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’
Maya Angelou

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.
Bernard Meltzer

 

Finding Happiness in Selfless Service

natural living selfless service volunteer

When I was a child, my parents would take my brothers and I with them to volunteer in a soup kitchen on Saturday mornings. We all helped in preparing the meal and serving it to the people who came to eat there. I remember sometimes people asked us if we could make something extra for them – a cheese sandwich for later or maybe something they could take to a friend who was sick or otherwise prevented from coming in person. It seemed no one ever felt inconvenienced by these requests. Rather, we all really liked helping and felt a natural joy in being of service to others. I remember honestly liking the people who came in and really looking forward to serving them each week. I did not see a dirty person or an undesirable person – I saw a person. And I felt in my heart a natural, spontaneous, desire to do something nice for this person. To do so felt naturally wonderful. There is something about the act of striving to bring more happiness into the lives of others that naturally grows the happiness in your own heart.

In the Vedic yoga system, selfless service is considered to be essential to the health and happiness of the living being. Both Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga incorporate this principle. Selfless service is also a core teaching in many other scriptures of the world and the lives of saintly people throughout history attest to the value of this type of service.

A person does not have to be a great saint, however, to experience the natural joy of serving selflessly. Even if one is not able to dedicate their entire life to serving others or to be completely free of selfish desires, a person can still taste the sweetness of helping others in the same way that I did as a child. You can volunteer to help people in material distress, to give up some of the time and energy you would have spent in pursuing material pleasures and instead use it to try to bring some happiness and warmth to the hearts of others. Even dedicating just one morning or afternoon per week can be life-changing.

Moreover, volunteering with your kids is a wonderful way to teach by example and also give them the opportunity to develop this virtue early in their lives. Many parents would like their children to be less self-centered, but just telling them they should be or even explaining why they should be, does not give them the personal experience which will actually allow them to realize this for themselves. By giving them opportunities and encouraging them in activities that will awaken their natural attraction for selflessness, you will be giving them the most amazing gift.

There are many forms of selfless service and when people refer to service being selfless, they may be talking simply about unpaid work (volunteering) or they may be referring to selfless service in its purest form. The core of selfless service is that you are not working for personal gain, but are are actually sacrificing your time and energy for the benefit of someone other than you. An interesting paradox in selfless service is that when you give of yourself freely, without thought or desire for personal gain, you actually do benefit on a much higher level – in your heart. It is not a business exchange, it is a loving exchange. The deep joy that you feel in your heart when selflessly giving to another is the natural effect of sincerely caring for that person. It springs from an innate recognition of our common spiritual essence, our relatedness as one family in the truest sense.

When we consciously understand in our hearts and minds that we are spiritual beings, not the material bodies we are temporary wearing, we automatically recognize that we are all related as one family. This recognition naturally increases our desire to love and care for one another, regardless of material differences such as ethnicity, religion, nationality, social status, age, gender, appearance, etc. We feel natural joy in being loving with our spiritual siblings and our Supreme Mother/Father. Selfless service is essentially loving service. Each of us has a natural desire to love, to be loving toward others. When we are truly loving another, we are not thinking about ourselves, we are only seeking to care for this other person, to bring them happiness. And we cannot help but be happy in our hearts in the happiness of someone we love.

When our natural desire to render loving service is restricted only to those who we identify as biological extensions of our body or to those we consider desirable because they can give us some material benefit, we keep ourselves from the full true experience of it. However, when we allow this natural tendency to have its full expression in unconditional love for the Supreme Person and for all living beings, we experience selfless, loving service in its truest and purest form.

Even if you only have an intellectual understanding of our essential relatedness with one another, selfless service with a sincere desire to develop real love for others and for the Supreme Person will lead to spiritual realization – especially when combined with spiritually-nourishing activities such as the yoga meditations we discussed in earlier articles (Kirtan, Japa Yoga, and Gauranga Breathing). As you develop spiritually, you will find that selflessness comes more easily, spontaneously, and naturally to you. You will find that you really like to be kind to others and you like helping them, that it brings incredible joy to your heart. You may even discover for yourself that selflessness is your natural state of being.

 

Here are some nice quotes on selflessly serving to inspire you:

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi

“Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make, not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large. ”
Mahatma Gandhi

“Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”
Mother Teresa

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”
Albert Schweitzer

“Love is Sacrifice. When you love, sacrifice is easy. And when you really love, sacrifice is joy.”
― Gramma Roxie Owens

What Is Kirtan

guitar player oho

Kirtan is a type of yoga meditation. It is the most-recommended type of yoga meditation for this day and age because it is so easy and accessible to everyone.

Usually, when people think of meditation, they think of sitting still and silent, while focusing the mind on a particular object. In the ancient  yoga system, the act of concentrating the mind one-pointedly on an object is called Dharana. It is actually considered to be a pre-meditation technique. Once a person mastered Dharana, they could then proceed to Dhyana which is when a person uses this ability to fix their mind one-pointedly on the Transcendent. (In yoga, to be considered meditation, the object that is being focused upon must be the Transcendent. Yoga meditation is transcendental meditation.) Yogis who were successful in this type of meditation were extraordinary individuals who lived in solitude under very austere conditions because that was what was required to bring the mind under control to the extent that a person could hold it in a single fixed position for extensive periods of time.

This exceptional level of mastery over the mind and senses is just not practical or even really possible for people in this day and age. Fortunately, there is a type of yoga meditation that is both practical and very accessible to all people…kirtan meditation. Kirtan is an ancient form of yoga meditation that became very popular in India over 500 years ago due to the influence of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who created a spiritual phenomenon that has since spread around the world.

In kirtan, people gather together to chant or sing transcendental mantras. Kirtan can be accompanied by traditional or electric instruments, drums and percussion, clapping of hands or no music at all. In a kirtan, usually one person sings the mantras and then others respond with the mantra going back and forth between leader and responders.

A transcendental mantra is described as being the descent of the Divine in the form of sound vibration making it possible for us to experience yoga or union with Supreme. Hearing and repeating such spiritual sound vibrations has the gradual effect of reawakening one’s natural spiritual love.

Not only is kirtan possible for everyone to engage in, but it is also very enjoyable. The teachings of yoga recognize that we all have a natural tendency to enjoy singing, playing music and being with other people. The practice of kirtan perfectly harmonizes these natural tendencies into a spiritually uplifting activity.

People of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, lifestyles, physical and mental abilities can engage in kirtan. There are no qualifications or lifestyle rules necessary for kirtan. Kirtan is for everyone and anyone. Even if a person is not particularly interested in spiritual life or is not very developed intellectually (as in the case of a baby or a mentally-impaired person), they can still benefit from kirtan and experience happiness and healing from it because kirtan is transcendental. It works on the level of the soul, gradually clearing away that which interferes with one’s experiencing the peaceful, joyful, loving nature that is innate within every living being.

Finding Kirtan

woman-playing-guitar

From the very first time I encountered kirtan, it held an attraction for me that I could not explain. Before I had attended, I had heard that kirtan was spiritually beneficial and certainly that was something that attracted me. And I very much enjoy singing and dancing to beautiful music and being in the company of other spiritually-inclined people. But the attraction that I felt was on a totally different level. It was not intellectual, not something I thought about. It was just there in the way that something that has always been there suddenly reveals itself to you. And you can not help but recognize this something because it naturally belongs with you. Like breathing. You never think about your attraction to breathing because it so naturally belongs with you. Finding kirtan for me was very much like finding my breath and realizing that I had been holding myself from it for my entire life.

The more I participated in the weekly kirtans that were being held in my community, the more my attraction and appreciation for it grew. I felt my heart healing and opening to new levels and experiences of love, joy, peace, and understanding. For me, finding kirtan was the end of a very long search. I had spent my life searching for something I could not name. In the experience of kirtan, I found what I had been looking for.

So what is kirtan, you may now be asking. There are many ways to try to understand the answer to this question.

You may have heard that kirtan is the group singing or chanting of transcendental sound vibrations, or yogic mantras. That it is a spiritual activity which purifies the mind and heart, bringing with it deep states of joy and peace. That it is an eternal love song between the soul and the Supreme Soul, a form of musical meditation that has the gradual effect of reawakening one’s natural spiritual love.

Kirtan is all of these and more. And it is the most natural inclination of the soul.

(More on kirtan in the next article…What Is Kirtan?)