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


The Gift of the Human Form of Life – How Yoga Enables Us To Realize Our Highest Potential

gift human form life yoga highest potential natural living pregnant womanIt is common these days among positively-minded people to encourage us to think of our life as a gift. And, actually, according to the ancient yoga scriptures, it is. Being born into the human form of life is a very rare and wonderful gift. However, to fully appreciate the value of this gift, we need to inquire into why this is so. Just reading it in a fortune cookie or seeing a nice Facebook post that says it is, is not enough for us to truly feel grateful in the core of our hearts for this immeasurably valuable gift we have received.

So, why is this current life in the human form such an precious gift?

To understand the answer, we must first know who we really are.

The ancient yoga scriptures (Vedas) tell us very clearly that we are the eternal spiritual person temporarily wearing our current material mind and body, like clothes. 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 as we are not the shirt or pants we have on now, we are not these “clothes” either.

The same is true for other forms of life that we see in this world – animal, plant, bacteria, and so on. Each of these living organisms is an individual spiritual person (jiva-atma) covered by a particular type of material mind and body. It is not that just those in the human form of life are a spiritual being wearing a material body – all the living entities who reside in this world are a spiritual being wearing a material body. In essence, there is no difference between the spiritual individual who is wearing a human body and the spiritual individual who is wearing a plant body. They are simply wearing different types of bodies and experiencing the mentality that fits that body. In fact, the person who is now embodied in a plant form, could have been embodied in a human form in their last lifetime – and vise versa.

Taking birth in a human form of life is a very rare and special opportunity. The Vedas tell us there are 8,400,000 varieties of life forms we can incarnate into and just looking at the ones that make up life on this planet, we can easily see that the number of beings in the human form of life are infinitesimal compared to the number that are currently embodied in other forms of life. For example, there are an estimated 4 quadrillion quadrillion beings in bacteria bodies, 10 billion billion in ant bodies, 500 trillion in Antarctic trill bodies, 3 trillion in tree bodies, 18.6 billion in domestic chicken bodies, and only about 7.5 billion beings in the human form of life. If you think about it statistically, you can easily see how rare it is for an individual to have the opportunity to take birth in a human body.

However, our opportunity to take birth in the human form of life is not simply special because it is statistically rare or even because it usually takes us so many million of lifetimes to get here. And it is not special because humans seem to have more refined methods of eating, sleeping, reproducing, and defending than other living beings on this planet.

So then, why is it that the human form of life is so special?

It is special because the human form of life offers us a unique opportunity for spiritual realization that is simply not available in the animal or plant forms of life. In the human form of life, we have the ability to be introspective – to inquire into the nature and purpose of our existence. We can understand ourselves as the spiritual person only temporarily wearing the material mind and body, and can engage in a process which allows us to completely transcend our material situation. If we are in a dog body, we cannot do this – we cannot understand our self as separate from our mind and body, and so are compelled to act according to a dog mentality and body. We are literally dragged through life by the urges of our doggy mind and bodily senses.

We may unknowingly look at tree or a dog and imagine that the being in a tree or dog body is happy and peaceful because they do not have the various worries that people in modern society have. We may even think trees and dogs have better lives than we do and wish we could be a dog or tree or some other life form. But, actually, the spiritual person wearing the tree or dog body still has the same material miseries that a person in a human body has – namely birth, disease, old age, and death. Furthermore, he has the same innate spiritual needs as the person in the human body, but unlike the person in the human body, he has no intellectual capacity for understanding his true spiritual nature and so cannot consciously take action to fulfill these needs. Thus, he suffers both materially and spiritually while in the dog or tree body, with little or no opportunity to rectify his suffering.

Because every living being is a spiritual person, we all have innate spiritual needs that can only be fulfilled through spiritual means – through realizing our true spiritual identity and living accordingly. In most forms of life, we do not have the opportunity to become aware of the choices we have and the actions we can take that will move us out our suffering condition of material consciousness and into our fully joyful and natural condition of spiritual consciousness.

In the human life form, however, we do have this opportunity. We can consciously choose spiritual life over material. We can choose to live according to our spiritual nature, rather than be enslaved by the dictates of our materially-conditioned mind and body. But in order to take advantage of this rare opportunity, we need to engage in bonafide process of spiritual realization.

Because our consciousness has become so very covered from countless lifetimes spent completely identified with our material coverings, our attachment to the world of materiality has become very deeply ingrained. We cannot simply pull ourselves out of material identification through our intellectual strength or mental willpower. Therefore, it is imperative that we engage sincerely in a genuine process which can purify our consciousness of material influence and fully awaken us to our true, spiritual essence, position, and function.

The ancient yoga scriptures clearly specify that the process most recommended for spiritual realization in this day and age is 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, material sound. They are the Supreme Person Himself in spiritual sound vibration. Because the Supreme is always the Supreme, regardless of how or where He chooses to appear, His Names are not tainted in any way by contact with matter. On the contrary, they have a purifying effect on the consciousness of any living being who comes into contact with them.

The Supreme appears in this world as His Names to give us the opportunity to revive our awareness of our true spiritual identity and to reawaken our lost relationship of loving friendship with Him. By receiving Him into our hearts through the hearing and repeating of His Names, our ignorance of our true nature is dissipated. The Supreme Person is the Supreme Sun who dissolves the darkness of material ignorance. As our consciousness becomes more and more purified, we are able to witness for ourselves the absolute sweetness and beauty of the Supreme Person. And so, naturally, we become increasingly eager to welcome Him into our hearts, and to be relieved of the burdensome weight of material misunderstandings and misgivings. Naturally, the spiritual love and happiness that lies dormant within us becomes fully awakened by His loving presence.

All of our spiritual needs can be fully met in this way, and thus the world of materiality will no longer have any hold over us. This is real freedom. Freedom to be who we truly are, to make choices in our life from a solid platform of clarity, love, and wisdom. We cannot do this while bound up in material misidentification, thinking we are our material coverings and so compelled to live according the demands of our mind and bodily senses – like the person in the dog or tree body.

This human form of life is a doorway into a higher way of living, but we must take the initiative to walk through the door. It is up to us to take advantage of the timeless wisdom and methods offered to us by the Supreme Person and saintly yogis by engaging in the process of self-realization – by meditating on, hearing and repeating, the Names of the Supreme at every opportunity. In this way, we can realize our highest potential. We can utilize this precious gift of the human form of life in the most glorious and joyful way possible. In doing so, our very existence becomes blissful, sublime, perfect, complete. This is truly what it means to live naturally.

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Creating A More Compassionate World Through Yoga

As living beings, we have a natural desire both to love and be loved. This is an inseparable aspect of our true nature, our spiritual nature. This is why it feels so amazingly good and right in our hearts to be relating with others in a truly loving and compassionate way. And why it feels so horrible to be relating with others in a non-loving or hateful way. It is not that only some people are like this due to their character or upbringing. All living beings have this innate loving nature. We love to love and we love to be loved – this is what makes us happier than absolutely anything else.

However, when we come into this material world, we are immediately covered by layers of material energy and become forgetful of our true spiritual nature. Instead of knowing that we are eternal spiritual individuals only temporarily wearing the material mind and body like clothes, we believe we are the ”clothes.” Convinced we are material, we take the total reality to be only the tiny section of it that we can detect with our material mind and senses. Thus, we look for fulfillment, happiness, and love only within the limited realm of matter. We fight and compete endlessly with others over things we think we need to be happy, trying to fill our hearts with mental and physical objects of this world. But because we are spiritual beings, made of spiritual energy, none of it can fulfill us. Our hearts are left empty and cold. It is ironic that the very things we are fighting over so mercilessly with one another, can never actually make us happy. All that fighting just leads us further away from the happiness we seek, further into darkness and ignorance.

Because we are spiritual beings, we need to be consciously linked up with our spiritual source, the Supreme Person, to be fulfilled and revive our true loving nature. As parts and parcels of the Supreme, each of us (every living being) is a tiny spiritual spark of the Supreme. We have the same essence and many of the same qualities as the Supreme Person, but we have them in minute quantities. When we are intimately linked with the Supreme, our spiritual qualities are manifest – just like sparks within a fire glow with the heat and light of the fire. But when we leave the close association of the Supreme, these spiritual qualities fade – in the same way that sparks grow dark and cold when they leave the influence of the fire.

This conscious linking up with the Supreme Person is called yoga. Oftentimes people misunderstand yoga as the physical postures (asana) and breathing exercises (pranayama) that are just a small aspect of the complete yoga system. But, actually, the word yoga means “union” and specifically it refers to our natural condition of loving union with the Supreme Person. The yoga system is designed to return us to this natural condition in which we are linked up with God in such an intimate way that our heart, our mind, our entire being, are immersed in divine love – our love for the Supreme Person and His love for us. Our every thought, word, and action become expressions of pure unconditional love for all beings. A person who is established in perfect yoga is so completely and utterly full with love, that there is no room anywhere within his entire being for selfishness and greed. He literally is the embodiment of unwavering love and compassion for all.

This transcendental love is what we need in order to truly have harmonious relationships with each other. The conditional love that we have for our child, but not for the child of our enemy is not enough. Material so-called love that is here today and gone tomorrow, that comes and goes according to our current mental or physical connections with each other, is not enough. What we need is unconditional love – love that emanates from the very core of our being, from our spiritual nature, and motivates us to genuinely care about the welfare of every living being. It is this divine love – and the joy that comes of it – that can give us the determination to work and sacrifice as much as is necessary so that everyone can be benefitted in the highest way possible. Without real love for each other, it will be impossible for us to ever work together and sacrifice together in the ways are necessary for all of us to be happy. It is only love that can heal the hurt of the past and carry us into a brighter future.

The unconditional love that we so urgently need may seem very far away at the present moment, but actually the seed of this love is already there within our hearts. Due to our forgetfulness of our true spiritual nature and subsequent identification with matter, this seed is mostly dormant within the people of this world. But it can be awakened through the hearing and chanting of the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person.

The Names of the Supreme Person are no ordinary sound – they are the Supreme Person Himself in spiritual sound vibration. Out of His causeless love for all of us, the Supreme Person appears personally in this world as His Names in order to give us the opportunity to come back into full awareness of our original spiritual nature. Simply by hearing and chanting or singing God’s Names, we are putting ourselves in His direct presence. This has a profound purifying and enlivening effect on our consciousness. As our minds and hearts are purified of the influence of matter, our true spiritual nature shines forth more and more.

When we consciously link up with the Supreme Person through His Names, we again begin to manifest our true divine nature. Through hearing and chanting or singing His Names on a daily basis, we are able to revive our forgotten relationship of loving friendship with Him. And, as our hearts blossom with love for our Supreme Friend, this love naturally extends to all His children – to all living beings. God wants us to be happy. And He knows that we will only be truly happy when we are in our natural condition – when we are truly loving Him and loving all of our spiritual siblings. Motivated by this love and joy, we will naturally relate compassionately with others and use our life for the highest welfare of all.

In the yoga scriptures, it is explained that the hearing and chanting of God’s Names is the highest welfare work we can perform. Not only does it free us of material misconceptions and awaken unconditional love for the Supreme and all beings within our hearts, but it has this same effect on every living being who hears them. So by hearing and chanting the Names of the Supreme Person aloud so that others can hear – and by encouraging them to do this also – we are directly creating a more loving and compassionate world.

The happiness and harmony we long for in our heart of hearts is entirely possible. If we sincerely want a better life for ourselves and others, we will have the determination and make the effort to actively be part of the solution. We cannot just sit back and blame others for our problems or depend on others to fix them for us. The Supreme Person makes it very easy for all of us to take part in His perfect solution. All we need to do is be humble enough to take advantage of this immeasurable gift and earnestly apply ourselves. The more loving and compassionate world we desire begins with us.

In the yoga system, meditation upon the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person is called Mantra Meditation. For information on specific types of yoga Mantra Meditation, simply click on the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Some nice quotes on Love and Compassion to inspire you:

“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”   ― Martin Luther King Jr.

“We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.”  ― Mother Teresa

When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ― Fred Rogers

“If someone thinks that peace and love are just a cliche that must have been left behind in the 60s, that’s a problem. Peace and love are eternal.” John Lennon

“The only thing we really have to work at in this life is how to manifest love.”    George Harrison

Opening Our Hearts To Love Again

heart opening love God yoga meditation natural living tree

Even if we have been hurt in relationships many times in the past, it is natural for us to want to love again. We deeply desire to love others and also to be loved by others. In fact, this is more than just a desire – it is an innate need. All living beings need both to love and be loved in order to be truly happy and fulfilled. This is why we spend our lives seeking out and trying to maintain loving friendships with others. However, when we have been hurt and disappointed over and over again throughout our lives, it can be very difficult to open our hearts to love again.

This is the situation that many of us find ourselves in today. When we are very young, it is usually quite easy to open our hearts – to form loving friendships with others in a very relaxed and natural way. When we are very young, we tend to have a certain amount of innocence about the world that allows us to open our hearts easily, to be affectionate and generous in our relationships with others. But as we grow older and experience the pain of a broken heart, a broken friendship, a broken bond of trust countless times with various people, our approach to relationships changes. We often become hesitant to open our hearts, to really trust others with our love – and very quick to put up walls, to withdraw our affection, to keep our most intimate feelings hidden. We may go through the motions externally of making friends and having all kinds of relationships, but inwardly we are not really allowing ourselves to get too close to others. Often we even become deeply fearful of love and the pain we associate with loving others. And so we find ourselves in a most awkward position – wanting and needing to love, but not at all feeling safe to love.

So, how can we love again? Not just superficially so, but truly, deeply, in the way that we have always longed to love and be loved.

They key is in reviving our awareness of our true identity and innate relationship with the Supreme Person.

Because we are eternal spiritual beings – not the material mind and body we are temporarily wearing – we need to experience love that transcends our material circumstances. Our longing for love is actually a spiritual need, arising from our eternal nature, so cannot be fulfilled in ways that are limited and impermanent. This is why we are disappointed, frustrated, and bewildered time and time again when we try to find the extraordinary love that we are seeking in relationships with ordinary living beings. Ordinary living beings simply do not have the capacity to fulfill our eternal and unlimited need for spiritual love. Only the Supreme Person has that capacity – no one else.

This is not to say that we cannot have loving relationships with other people, but we will only find the absolute fulfillment in love that we long for in our relationship with the Supreme Person. And when we do actually find this fulfillment within our relationship with God, because we are fulfilled, we will be able to love others in a truly healthful way – selflessly and without fear.

So how do we develop a loving relationship with God?

Our answer is in the bona fide scriptures of the world – and specifically the ancient yoga texts give very detailed instructions on this matter.

In the yoga scriptures, it is explained that we are eternally related with the Supreme Person by a bond of kinship. He is our closest relative, our Supreme Father-Mother and our eternal dearmost Friend. Although the love that we have for each other is ever-existing, inseparable from our very nature, our remembrance of this love becomes covered by the influence of matter when we come into this material realm. When we put on the material “clothes” of the mind and body, and become lost in the misconception that we are these coverings, we tend to forget our spiritual nature and everything related to it.

Even though the Supreme Person is our closest Friend and dearmost Beloved, we can lose awareness of everything we know about Him, even His very existence. This is how powerful the affect material nature has on us. However, because living in forgetfulness of God is so unnatural for us, we are never able to become very comfortable in this materially-induced amnesia. We experience a deep emptiness, a gnawing restlessness that simply cannot be filled through any kind of relationship of this world. And it is this deep dissatisfaction that is actually our saving grace. Because it lets us know that something is wrong, that there is a very essential something or someone that is missing from our lives. It is this dissatisfaction that leads us to continue searching until we find our way back to the loving embrace of our eternal Friend.

If we are able to recognize, or even consider the possibility, that our longing for love needs to be directed toward God in order to be fulfilled, then we are very fortunate indeed. We may feel emotionally bruised by our failed exploits in material love, but inwardly we can take heart in the knowledge that our so-called failures have now put us on the most auspicious and joyful of all paths. Love for God is no ordinary love – it is the perfection of love, the perfection of our very being. It is what our hearts have been seeking lifetime after lifetime – our highest nature, and fullest, most authentic and glorious expression of self.

Love for the Supreme Person eternally resides within our hearts, but it is currently covered, dormant, like a seed. In order to awaken this love, to encourage this seed to sprout and flourish, we need to cultivate it. This can best be done by following the instructions of scripture.

In the yoga scriptures, it is clearly explained that the most effective way to cultivate our remembrance and love of the Supreme Person is by meditating on His transcendental Names. (In yoga, this is called Mantra Meditation.) The Names of the Supreme are the Supreme Person Himself in spiritual sound vibration. God appears in this world in the form of spiritual sound in order to give us the chance to personally know and relate with Him. The Supreme is always the Supreme, regardless of how or where He is chooses to appear. Thus, His Names are never influenced or tainted in any way through contact with matter. On the contrary, God’s Names remain purely spiritual in all circumstances, so they have the ability to purify our consciousness of all material misconceptions. In this way, our true nature can be revealed.

Through hearing and chanting or singing His Names daily, our hearts and minds are gradually cleansed of all material misunderstandings and misgivings. The darkness, pain, bitterness, anxiety, and heart-break of material living dissipates as the budding warmth, comfort, and golden healing radiance of spiritual love unfolds itself within our hearts.

This loving relationship that we have with God – that we are wanting to revive – is not at all impersonal or general. It is not loving some vague idea of Him. On the contrary, it is the most personal, close and intimate of all relationships. God is a real Person, our ever well-wisher and dearmost beloved Best Friend that we have simply forgotten. As we hear, chant, and sing His Names, we begin to actually remember Him. We experience the familiar feel and warmth of His presence in our hearts and in His Names – and naturally, we rejoice. It is life itself returning to our hearts.

In this relationship, we will find all the happiness, peace, meaning, safety, sense of belonging, purpose, and so on that we have been longing for. The Supreme Person loves us unconditionally. He loves us even when when we are not loving Him, even when we forget His existence. So, when we finally turn to Him with a sincere desire to know and love Him again, He will not refuse us because we are imperfect, afraid, or even very low and fallen. He will help us. He will hold our hand and kindly encourage us in the right direction. We may be hesitant, at first, to trust our heart even to the Supreme Person. But as our consciousness is purified through Mantra Meditation – as we are able to directly see Him for our self with a clear mind and heart – we will be able to know for sure that there is no place in the entirety of existence that is a more safe and natural place for our heart than with our Supreme Friend. When we are, at last, able to truly give our heart to Him, without the tiniest amount of fear, doubt, or reservation, we will be Home.

This is the solution to all of our problems of the heart. When our heart finds its real Home, its natural resting place, in the loving embrace of our dearmost Beloved Friend, we will understand completely why love has been such a difficult road for us up until now and why it never will be again. We will know love in a whole new way. We will know love – real love, spiritual love – as our natural condition.

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

 

Naturally In Harmony – Music for Spiritual Realization

natural living in harmony music spiritual realization2

Naturally, we are attracted to music. For many of us, it plays such a central role in our lives that we listen to it every day, throughout our day, and even while we sleep. Music has a powerful influence on our consciousness and can affect us in very beneficial ways. Many hospitals and healthcare centers nowadays are regularly using music to assist in the health and wellness of their patients. Certainly, our mind can be affected by music in a variety of desirable ways. However, the most beneficial way that we can use music is for spiritual realization.

The music that most of us listen to is made up entirely of material sound. Even nature sounds, like the sound of ocean waves or rain or songbirds chirping, are all material sounds. Although material sound vibrations can be used to create pleasant mental, emotional, and physical states, all these benefits are only temporary. They may help our mind and body to feel calm or happy or energized for a short period of time, but then the effect diminishes. We may listen again, but the desired effect still fades away. If we listen to a material sound or song all day every day, what tends to happen is that we grow tired of listening it.

The reason material sound only brings us temporary pleasure is because it just feeds the mind and body, which are also made of material energy. But we are not the mind and body. In fact, we are made of a completely different energy – spiritual energy.

According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bona fide scriptures of the world, we are eternal spiritual beings only temporarily wearing the material mind and body. 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.

Because we are spiritual beings existing within material coverings, and within a world made up almost entirely of material energy, we tend to lose awareness of our spiritual nature. Our consciousness becomes covered by the misconception that we are material and that everything in existence is material also. In this condition, we fall asleep to our true spiritual nature and operate as if we actually are the material mind and body we are wearing. Our life becomes centered on taking care of these “clothes” and we become lost in this endeavor, like a dreamer becomes lost in a dream.

The mind and senses are always agitating for stimulation of some kind and so we are endlessly engaged in running here and there, trying to obtain this thing or that situation in a vain attempt to satisfy them. We do this under the misperception that by satisfying our mind and bodily senses, we will be satisfying our self. But, in fact, it has just the opposite effect. The more we focus our life on trying to appease the mind and senses, the more agitated they become. And, the more we buy into the misunderstanding that the clothes are us, the more empty, bewildered, frustrated, unhappy, and desperate we become. We will find ourselves doing all kinds of unhealthy things in an urgent attempt to pacify the increasing agitation, and in doing so, we drift further and further away from our true spiritual nature.

We become so caught up in chasing things outside of ourselves – in trying to obtain recognition and approval from others, external power and control, wealth, fame, sensual gratification, and whatever else it is that our mind and body agitate for – that we forget who we are and what is actually essential for us to live a rich, meaningful, and fully satisfying life. Without realizing who we truly are, it is impossible for us to know how to be actually happy and fulfilled.

So how can we realize our true nature?

When we look to the yoga scriptures, we find an answer that can easily be incorporated into some of our favorite activities – hearing, singing, and playing music.

The yoga scriptures recommend mantra meditation – meditation on sacred sounds – as the primary means for self-realization in this day and age. A 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.

These sacred yoga mantras can very easily be combined with music of all genres to create a musical meditation that is an incredibly potent and delightful way to practice meditation – alone or with others. Already we have a natural tendency to want to hear and play music, sing, dance, and engage in joyful activities with other people. By making mantra meditation the basis for these activities, they transcend the mundane and become a means by which participants can taste the sweetness of their true spiritual nature.

The more we practice mantra meditation, the more our consciousness becomes purified of material misunderstandings and misgivings. Practicing daily – with or without music – enables us to gradually awaken from the dream of the material self and into remembrance of our actual self. We all have innate spiritual inclinations and activities which become covered when we erroneously take ourselves to be the material mind and body. Through regular practice of mantra meditation, this mirage can eventually be seen for what it is and we are able to resume our natural way of life, in full awareness of our spiritual nature.

In this awakened state of consciousness, we revive our original loving relationship with the Supreme and it becomes very clear to us how to live our lives both happily and in harmony with all of life. In our natural state of consciousness, there is no confusion about what is to be done and what is not to be done. There is no struggle to find happiness or interact peaceably and honestly with others. There is no longer anything subverting our hearts, so we spontaneously relate with others in genuinely kind and caring ways.

We become the friend and well-wisher of all, endeavoring with unwavering compassion to give others the same opportunity that we were given –  to discover the Divine love song that will lead us back to our real self and our highest, happiest, most fulfilling life.

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Living Naturally – What’s Karma Got To Do With It?

Live Naturally Happy Good Karma Beyond Karma is a term that is commonly used these days – but very few people have a true understanding of what it means and how it affects our lives.

So what it is karma? Karma means action – and when we refer to karmic action and reaction, we are specifically referring to action that is governed by the laws of material nature. According to these laws, every action undertaken in material consciousness will have an associated material fruit or result. As you sow, so shall you reap.

From a material standpoint, karmic action and results are seen as “good” or “bad.” If we have at least some understanding of the effects of karmic action, we may strive to engage in pious and charitable activities with the intention of reaping a desirable outcome – either in this life or in a future life. Similarly, we may try to avoid doing harm to others because we understand that whatever harm we do to others will result in us having to experience that same harm upon ourselves. Desirable action and effects are commonly referred to as “good karma” and undesirable as “bad karma.” Many of us strive to improve our current or future lives through karmic action. However, from a spiritual perspective, all karmic action and reactions are seen as undesirable.

Why?

Because the end result of engaging in karmic action is that we will remain in material consciousness – in the illusion that we are the body and mind that we are wearing – and so never actually be able to experience the complete fulfillment and pure joy of our true spiritual nature.

So how can we be free from karmic action and reaction?

There is only one way – through fully awakening to our true identity as spiritual beings. We must transition from our current level of materially-centered consciousness to a fully spiritually-centered one. To do this, we must understand what is material consciousness, what is spiritual consciousness, and what is the correct process for moving from one to the other.

Material consciousness is founded on the mistaken belief that I am material. In this condition, we believe that we are these temporary bodies we are wearing and also that we are the material mind that produces thoughts and emotions that urge us to engage in action.

The material mind and body can be compared to a set of clothes that we are wearing. The gross physical body is like outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body is like under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either. We are the individual spiritual beings that temporarily reside within the mind and body.

But in material consciousness, we operate under the misconception that we are our body and mind. Thus, our actions are centered on satisfying our mind and physical senses. In this condition of mistaken identity, we are caught in an endless cycle of karmic action and reaction – inevitably experiencing tremendous suffering without ever be able to reach beyond the karmic cycle to where actual happiness and fulfillment are possible. We are compelled by the demands of our mind and body (that we think is us) to engage is both pious and impious actions and so are subjected to various degrees of suffering sprinkled with the occasional superficial and fleeting moments of material pleasure.

As long as we remain unaware of our true identity as spiritual beings only wearing the “clothes” of the mind and body, we cannot awaken to our true blissful and eternal nature. We simply move from one body to the next in a covered state of consciousness, like a sleepwalker in an endlessly uncomfortable series of dreams.

Spiritual consciousness is realization of our actual identity as eternal spiritual beings. It begins with awareness that we are not the material mind and body, but does not end there. After realizing who we are not, the next step is to realize who we are – our true essence, position, and function. We have talked in some depth about our true essence in earlier articles and will discuss position and function in future articles, but it must be understood that the realization being referred to is not just an intellectual understanding. It is good to have some intellectual understanding of who we are, but that is not direct realization. Intellectual understanding alone does not provide for a transformation of consciousness. For a transformation of consciousness to take place, we must be able to directly perceive the truth of who we are. It is not enough to just read about it – we must seriously and sincerely engage in a bona fide process of self-realization.

The yoga scriptures are very clear in their recommendation of mantra meditation as the process for self-realization in this day and age. Through sincere and regular practice of mantra meditation, we can gradually come into the direct realization of our true spiritual nature. In spiritual consciousness, we are no longer acting in any way whatsoever for the satisfaction of our mind and body. We fully know that we are not these coverings and so do not follow their directives. Instead, we follow the directives of our fully awakened spiritual heart.

In this state of fully awakened spiritual remembrance, we naturally seek only to benefit others – not so that we can prosper in any way, but because we truly love and care about them. Motivated purely by love, we seek to know and follow the highest directives, which are those of the Supreme Person. Our actions are not materially motivated, so they do not incur karmic reaction – “good” or “bad.” In this way, our consciousness becomes free from the influence of material action and reaction, free from the harsh and onerous demands of material nature. Thus, we at last come to rest, joyfully, in our spiritual nature.

Although mantra meditation is very simple, it has the potency to transition us from a materially-clouded consciousness to a fully purified, spiritual consciousness. 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.

Through this direct association with the Supreme, our natural spiritual inclinations and activities are gradually uncovered and we are eventually completely relieved of the unnatural influence of material nature. The more we associate with the Supreme through mantra meditation, the more we remember the deep happiness and fulfillment of this most essential relationship. It is like the sun rising within us. Our hearts become full with love, and our lives become full with golden warmth and vibrancy. Our actions naturally become filled with this spiritual radiance, which touches the lives and hearts of others, helping to bring us all back into our original state of harmony with the Supreme and so all of life.

In this way, we can become freed from the karmic cycle and thus live happily and naturally in the deepest sense of the words.

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

 

Applying Yoga Wisdom – Freedom From Worry

yoga meditation natural living freedom from worry wisdom

Worry is really not helpful in any situation. When we worry, we allow our fearful state of mind to take over our attention, our energy, our time, and lead us into further subjugation. Sometimes we become convinced that some amount of worry can be helpful in protecting us or inspiring us to act – but we need our actions to arise from intelligence and wisdom, not from worry. Worry is a state in which our hearts, minds, intelligence are covered. Actions that come from this state will only lead ultimately to increased suffering.

Most of us accept that worrying is a waste of time – that it adds nothing good to our lives and actually uses our valuable time and energy in ways that are mentally and physically detrimental to our health and happiness. Still it can be difficult to stop our minds from engaging in this unwanted behavior.

Although worrying is so prevalent that almost every one of us is unwillingly drawn into it from time to time – and many are frequently immersed in worry –  it is essential to understand that it is not natural to us. Worry is not our natural state. Being controlled by our mind is not natural. So then why do we so easily find ourselves doing it and why is it so difficult to stop doing it?

If we understand the root cause of worry, we will have the answers we seek – including a solution that we can apply to free ourselves from worry.

Almost all of us, to one degree or another, are living under the misconception that we are the material mind and body that we are currently wearing – but this is not who we really are. The root cause of worry is mistaking ourselves for the mind and body.

According to the yoga scriptures and other bona fide scriptures of the world, we are not the material body or the mind – we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily wearing the material mind and body. 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.

If we are convinced we are the mind and body, then we equate happiness and success with material gratification. We will think that by satisfying the demands of our mind and physical senses, we will be satisfying us. But in actuality, material gratification only brings temporary and superficial pleasure to the mind and senses. It does not actually touch us – the spiritual self wearing the clothes.

If we only engage in activities that serve our mind and body, we are spiritually starving ourselves. No matter how much, how pleasurable, or how often we feed our mind and body with material stimulation, we will remain empty and unfulfilled within the core of our hearts. Material experiences can partially cover the emptiness, agitation, and pain we feel deep within. They can temporarily distract us – but when our distraction ends, we again experience the discomfort of our lack of spiritual fulfillment. We can worry endlessly about how to find, capture, and hold on to the material objects, circumstances, and relationships that we think will bring us happiness and satisfaction, but nothing material can ever provide us with the perfect and permanent state of joyful and loving connection that we long for. All things material are impermanent by nature – our nature, however, is eternal.

Because we are spiritual beings, only that which is of our same nature can actually satisfy us. To be permanently and perfectly happy and fulfilled, we need to be linked up with our spiritual Source.

The method recommended by the yoga scriptures in this day and age for consciously connecting 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 puts themselves in the direct presence of the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

Through mantra meditation, we are able to begin tasting a peace and joy that is transcendental to material circumstances. It fills the painful emptiness deep within us and quiets the agitation in the core of our hearts. When we meditate with a mantra that has real spiritual potency, it nourishes us on the most vital level – the spiritual level. The more that we sincerely, humbly, and regularly engage in this spiritually potent activity, the more we experience a growing fullness within, a growing joy and satisfaction. Naturally, the more we are satisfied through mantra meditation, the less we are dependent on material circumstances for relief or comfort. When the source of our greatest discomfort – spiritual starvation – is alleviated, the relatively small discomforts of the mind and body can be tolerated.

Mantra meditation not only nourishes us, but regular practice gradually purifies our consciousness – freeing our hearts, minds, and intelligence from misunderstandings and misgivings that cover us and keep us stuck in the material concept of life. Thus, we can progressively see things as they are, rather than from the smoggy perspective of ignorance and anxiety. If worried thoughts arise, we are able to dismiss them and use our increasingly purified intelligence to guide us in the best course of action.

The more fully we are established in our spiritual identity and the loving relationship with the Supreme that is inseparable from it, the less worrisome our material troubles are to us. In spiritual realization, we are offered what we long for in our heart of hearts – deep and abiding happiness, permanent and perfect shelter, comfort, and love. Thus, we no longer feel the need to worry over material circumstances, to anguish over the demands of our mind and senses. They are stripped of their power to send us into fits of worry and we are at peace on the solid ground of our true nature.

Freedom from worry is possible for anyone. We need only apply ourselves to the process of mantra meditation with humility and sincerity. The yoga scriptures are a matchless gift, a transcendental treasure, that contain timeless wisdom to assist us in finding our way out of the confusion and anxiety of our misguided identification with matter and into the natural peace and joy of our true spiritual nature.

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

 

“Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.”
Corrie ten Boom

“Worry is like a rocking-chair. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.”
Wayne Bennett

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.”
John Lubbock

“That the birds of worry fly over your head, this you cannot change. But that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.”
Chinese Proverb

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
Corrie ten Boom

 

Spiritual Life is Happiness

 

spiritual life happiness natural living joyful

Everyone is looking for happiness. We base our lives – either directly or indirectly – upon what we are convinced will bring us the most happiness. The desire for happiness is an innate quality of every living being. It is inseparable from us. We simply cannot be satisfied without happiness. Our desire, our need, for real and lasting happiness is so strong that we will continue to look for it until we actually find it.

The way in which most of us have been trying to find happiness is through material means. And the reason why most of us do this is because we generally go through life believing that we are the material mind and body that we are temporarily wearing. When our mind and bodily senses are agitating for something, we try to fulfill them thinking that it will fulfill us, but it never actually does. Whatever relief or pleasure we experience is temporary, at best. Very soon, again, the mind and bodily senses are agitating for something else and we are constantly struggling to deal with these demands – hoping against hope that somehow we will find a way to fulfill them permanently. Thus, we ardently search for the profound happiness that we long for in material things, thoughts, and circumstances. When we give our entire heart, mind, and life over to the shiny hope of success in material life, we will be heart-broken over and over again, as we will not find fulfillment there, despite our arduous efforts.

Most of us live in a state of deep hunger for something vital that is missing from our lives. We search for it constantly, but finding it is impossible unless we have correct understanding of who we are.

According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bona fide scriptures of the world, we are not the material body or the mind – we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily wearing the material mind and body. 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.

If we fully believe that we are the “clothes”, then we will mistakenly seek to satisfy our desire for happiness solely through trying to satisfy our material mind and body. We will try to fill our minds and physical senses with things and thoughts that are pleasing to us in some way, but will never actually be able to find more than temporary and superficial happiness. We cannot experience fulfillment in this way because these thoughts and things only feed our mind and body. They do not touch us – the spiritual self wearing the material coverings. We remain in a state of endless hunger. We can temporarily distract ourselves from the painful emptiness deep in the core of our being, but as soon as our distraction ends, awareness of the emptiness within us returns.

In order to be truly happy, truly satisfied, we need to look for happiness where it can actually be found – through the realization of our spiritual identity and the spiritual life that blossoms from this realization. We need  a process that will purify our consciousness of the material misconceptions we have erroneously taken on and reconnect us with our spiritual Source,  so we can experience the completely nourishing, deep joy of our true nature.

The only process that has the potency to do this is a bona fide spiritual process. If it is a material process that has simply been given a spiritual label and snazzy packaging, but it is not actually a process that comes directly from the Supreme for the purpose of spiritual realization, it will not be sufficient, nor satisfying. This is why it is wise to look to the bona fide scriptures of the world when we are seeking to realize the truth of our self. Material methods will not yield spiritual revelation. Only the method which is truly spiritual in nature will result in the uncovering and blossoming of our natural state of consciousness because our true nature is spiritual.

In the ancient yoga system, the recommended method for consciously linking up with our spiritual Source and cultivating the spiritual love and happiness that will completely fulfill us 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 linking up with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

Through yoga mantra meditation, we begin to taste the sweetness of spiritual happiness. And with sincere, daily practice, our minds and hearts are gradually purified of material misunderstandings, so that we are able to know in our heart of hearts the deeply fulfilling joy of our true nature and the loving relationship with the Supreme that is inseparable from it.

Spiritual realization is generally a gradual process, but even in the early stages, we begin to feel an incredible joy awakening and growing deep within us. As we continue to practice mantra meditation, sincerely following the guidance of bona fide scripture and learning from the words and lives of genuinely enlightened, saintly people, we experience this joy maturing and blossoming – along with an increasingly clear understanding of our spiritual essence, position, and function. Through yoga mantra meditation, our hearts and minds are freed from living in the illusion of the material perspective, and thus we can resume our naturally happy state of spiritual consciousness.

The true spiritual process takes us on a journey that is joyful from start to finish because the very nature of spiritual life is happiness. In the beginning, the happiness we experience is a tiny seed that we water daily and carefully nurture. If our consciousness is very covered, the seed may be very, very tiny – like the seed of a banyan tree – but it is unmistakably there within our heart of hearts. As the seed sprouts and flourishes, grows strong and tall, flowers and bares fruit, we will know happiness in ever new and wondrous ways. The transcendental happiness of full spiritual realization is something that completely surpasses the very highest happiness that can be had in any material mode of consciousness. The pure, unadulterated bliss of such a state is unfathomable by material means, but as our consciousness transforms and we are able to taste it even a little, it feels sweetly familiar because what we are tasting is our true nature increasingly revealed.

This is real spiritual life. It is never something we do to get something else. It is what we are. It is our natural state of being – our natural inclinations, activities, condition that we return to when we are purified of all that is artificial. Spiritual life is not only the way to happiness – it is happiness. It is pure joy. When we truly find our way into it, we will not give it up for anything because it is exactly what we have been searching for all our lives. We will know for certain that we have found it because we will no longer be searching.

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

 

My Own Quest to Live Naturally

ladyflowers3

Although living naturally has always been my true goal, it was not the focus of my life for much of my life. For most of my life, I did not even think about what is the goal of my life. I lived primarily by the directives of my mind and body, and by the ideas about life I formed through my own personal experiences and what I learned from others. It was not that it was all bad, but taken altogether, it made for a life that was fraught with misery and struggle – especially in my adult years. From deep in my heart, I felt I was being guided to something better, but I was so confused and bewildered by my experiences, that I continually felt off balance, anxious, and unclear about what I was to do and why I was doing it. It was like being lost at sea with no land in sight. I intuitively knew land was there somewhere, but had no idea how to find it.

Until around age thirty or so, mostly I was focused on changing my external environment to try to find the harmony and happiness I sought inside. Then I was introduced to introspection and the idea that it was not the external environment that was the problem, rather, it was how I was relating from the inside to my external situations that was causing so much misery and disharmony in my life. I stopped trying to change everyone and everything outside of me, and instead started paying attention to what was going on inside. When I became aware that I was experiencing some kind of mental/emotional suffering, I would apply different techniques to try to change my mind so that I would at least be at peace with whatever was going on. I had some measure of success with this, and was happy in comparison to the misery of before, but still felt generally confused and bewildered by my experiences, off balance, anxious, unclear about what I was to do and why I was doing it. I knew I was heading in a better direction than before, but was still pretty lost.

Then I had the extreme good fortune to come in contact with kirtan and bhakti yoga – and this is where I began to understand where I had gone so far off track and how to begin the trek back to recovering my natural state of being.