Returning to Our Natural Condition of Love Through Yoga

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Love is our deepest desire and highest aspiration. More than anything else, love is what makes us happy and peaceful, gives our life meaning and purpose, and inspires in us the greatest of qualities and capabilities. Nothing feels more deeply right, true, and joyful for us than when we are able to open our hearts and be genuinely kind and loving, merciful and tolerant, generous and forgiving with others. When we are able to be truly loving with others, we get a taste of our transcendental nature – our nature as spiritual beings.

Each of us is eternally an individual spiritual being, currently covered by layers of material energy.

In the yoga scriptures, it is explained that each of us is eternally an individual spiritual being, currently covered by layers of material energy. The gross physical body is like outer clothes. The mind (subtle body) is like under clothes. Although we are wearing these “clothes,” we are not them. They are just clothes. Just like the shirt, pants, and so on we are wearing at this moment are not us – they are just clothes. The mind and body are also just layers of material energy that we are using for some time, and will eventually discard. We are made of spiritual energy, and our “clothes,” our mind and body, are made of material energy.

Love is our essential nature because it is the essential nature of the Supreme Person. 

It is due to our nature as spiritual beings that we have such a strong desire and need both to love and be loved. Love is our essential nature because it is the essential nature of the Supreme Person. As tiny sparks of His spiritual energy, we are the same in essence as the Supreme Person and have many of His same qualities, but we have these qualities in minute quantities. We are not the Supreme, but we are made of His energies, and He is the foundation for our existence.

We have the inclination to love others – to be loving, kind, caring, compassionate – because this is an innate quality of the Supreme Person. The Supreme Person is the supreme source of love, the reservoir of love, the most loving Being in existence. His love for us, for all living entities, is absolute, eternal, unlimited, and unconditional. There is nothing we could ever do that could make Him not love us. Unconditional love is an inseparable quality of the Supreme Person. By His very nature, He is the eternal Friend and Well-Wisher of all. As we are made of His energies, we also have this innate quality to be unconditionally loving.

Even though unconditional love is natural for us, we rarely experience love in this way because we are currently not in our natural condition.

However, although the inclination to love unconditionally is there within our heart of hearts, we do not generally experience love unconditionally for all beings. Instead, our affection tends to wax and wane according to various external conditions. We may feel we love our family, but we do not feel this love for all families. Or we may feel we love our friend now, but if later this friend rejects or offends us, then this affection dissipates. Generally, we experience love in this world as being conditional. It comes and goes according to various factors. Although unconditional love is natural for us, we rarely experience love in this way because we are currently not in our natural condition.

Our innate spiritual tendency to love unconditionally has become suppressed, distorted, due to the ways we are conditioned by our material environment and materially-centered ways of living. Even though we are not our material mind and body, because we have become so closely identified with them, our consciousness has become altered. Even if intellectually and intuitively we recognize that we are not our bodies, habitually we live as if we are. We are very heavily influenced in our life by the mind and body we have – so much so that we cannot, by our own efforts, disentangle ourselves from this influence.

Material conditioning alters our consciousness in such a way that we cannot, solely by our own efforts, change it back to its original state.

The conditioning effect that material life has our consciousness is compared in yoga scripture with how milk becomes yogurt. When milk is conditioned in certain ways by bacteria, it becomes yogurt. Once the milk becomes yogurt, we cannot change it back into milk. Similarly, once our consciousness becomes conditioned by material life, it becomes altered in such a way that we cannot, by our own efforts, change it back to its original state.

This is why no matter how hard we try, we cannot, by our own efforts, cause ourselves to revert back to our original spiritual condition. And why – even though it is our true nature to love all beings unconditionally – we cannot, by our own efforts, cause ourselves to unconditionally love every person, all the time, in every circumstance. Sometimes we feel more loving, sometimes not very much, and sometimes not at all or even quite the opposite. This is the situation we are in. It does not mean we are bad or broken. It just means we are not in our natural condition – and almost no one here is.

But although our current condition is problematic, we are actually in a most fortunate position if we have the humility to recognize that we are not in our natural state – because this gives us the opportunity to do something about it. While it is true that we cannot return to our natural condition of spiritual consciousness solely by our own efforts, it is possible for us to do so through linking up with the Supreme Person.

Through consciously linking up with the Supreme Person, we can return to our original, unadulterated state of being.

Unlike us, the Supreme Person is not bound by material laws of nature. On the contrary, He is the original Law-Maker, the Cause of all causes. Although turning yogurt back into milk is not possible for us to do, it is easily within the power of the Supreme Person. And although returning to our original state of spiritual consciousness is not something we can do alone, it is possible through linking up with the Supreme Person.

In order to assist us in returning to our original state of consciousness – to our original joyful and unconditionally loving nature – the Supreme Person has given us the yoga system. Yoga is often misunderstood in modern times as a system of physical exercises to promote health and fitness. But, actually, yoga is a complete system of spiritual realization. The physical postures (asana) are only a minor aspect of the entire system and, although beneficial in many ways, are not an essential practice.

In the yoga system, the primary method for linking up with the Supreme Person is Mantra Meditation. 

For each age or yuga, there is a process given in the yoga system for returning to our original condition of spiritual consciousness. In the current age, the primary yogic method for spiritual realization is hearing and repeating the Names of the Supreme Person. In yoga, this is called Mantra Meditation.

The Names of the Supreme Person are not ordinary sound. They are the Supreme Person in the form of spiritual sound vibration. The Supreme Person appears in this world as His Names out of His love for us, and offers us this method of consciously linking up with Him. Whenever we hear, chant or sing the Names of the Supreme Person, we are relating directly with Him – and it is this intimate association with our Supreme Friend that purifies our consciousness of the influence of material nature. Through regular, daily, contact with the Supreme Person via His Names, our consciousness is gradually restored to its original condition. It is like the yogurt being turned back into milk.

Daily practice of Mantra Meditation gradually returns us to our natural condition of love.

Because material ways of thinking about our self and life have become very deeply ingrained within our consciousness, it is most beneficial to practice yoga Mantra Meditation daily. By doing so, our progress can become steady, and we will increasingly experience a dawning of genuine spiritual understanding and spiritual love.

As we gradually return to our natural condition of consciousness, we will actually experience love for others spontaneously growing within our hearts. It is not something we have to try to conjure up – or that we even have the ability to conjure up – it is simply the inherent result of our returning to our original, unadulterated state of being.

In our natural condition, we experience unwavering, unconditional love for the Supreme Person and for all beings. Not impersonal so-called love. But very personal, very real, deeply affectionate love for each and every living being. Motivated, moved, by this love, we are naturally compassionate, kind, tolerant, merciful, selfless, generous, forgiving, and so on. Our every thought, word, and action arises from this love, and our life is a glorious expression of love. This is spiritual love, purified love.

Although this extraordinary love may seem very far away from us at the moment, if we sincerely, humbly, apply ourselves to the process given to us by our Supreme Friend, we can and will find this sublime love growing within our own hearts and lives. By following the instructions of the Supreme Person, by practicing yoga Mantra Meditation daily, we will experience the most wonderful inner transformation. We will find more and more that love for others comes easily, joyfully, causelessly, of its own accord – that it fills the emptiness in our hearts with sweetness and light, and illuminates the lives of all it touches. Through following the path of yoga, we can return to our natural condition of love, and inspire others to do so, as well.

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

If you would like to learn yoga Mantra Meditation, I highly recommend this wonderful video class:

Yoga Mantra Meditation Class with Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa

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

The Yoga System – Divine Guidance For Our Happiest Life

 

natural living divine guidance happy life yoga

Naturally, if we are interested in spiritual life, we will be interested in receiving guidance from God. Obviously, there is no better person to guide us in our life than the Person who is the Supreme Source of our life, the very foundation of our existence. No one knows us in the way that the Supreme Person knows us, and no one loves as completely as He does. He is our Supreme Best Friend and eternal well-wisher. His love for us is unconditional and His ability to guide us in our absolute highest welfare is infallible. If we at all understand the nature of the Supreme Person, then it is easy for us to accept that He is the best Person for us to look to for the guidance that we need.

So how can we put ourselves in contact with the guidance of the Supreme?

We can do this through following the path of yoga. The system of yoga that is described in the Vedas is actually the direct instruction of the Supreme Person. It is His guidance for us, for all of humanity. It has been given to us, handed down through disciplic succession (parampara), and written down in a specific way to keep the knowledge intact and pure. The yoga system is a practical instruction manual for realizing our true nature and life’s highest purpose, given directly by the Supreme Source of all life. Moreover, it is a living instruction manual.

Inseparable from the instruction of the Supreme is the means by which these instructions can be personally realized and applied to our lives in the most intimate, meaningful, and practical of ways. It is not simply intellectual concepts, and it cannot be understood simply on an intellectual level. The instructions of the Supreme must be lived to be understood – they must be personally realized by us to be fully embraced. This is what it means to actually be divinely guided.

Placing ourselves under the care and guidance of Supreme Person involves being engaged in a real relationship with Him. We cannot truly understand His instructions if we have no understanding of Him. Blind following and mental speculation will not get us very far in the yoga system – their results are shallow, insincere, and do not lead to mature revelation. If we want to fully understand and apply the guidance of the Supreme Person, we must develop a close, personal relationship with Him. We must sincerely endeavor to have a loving friendship with Him. When we do this, when we actually come to know Him as our Friend and well-wisher, we will feel confident placing ourselves in His hands. Cultivating this loving friendship is the central activity of yoga.

God gives us many different ways of knowing Him, but the primary method in this day and age for cultivating a relationship of loving friendship with Him is through the hearing and repeating of the His transcendental Names. (In yoga, this is called Mantra Meditation.) In truth, we already and always have a relationship with the Supreme Person. He is our closest relative and Supreme Friend eternally. However, due to the strong influence of the material world, our awareness of our natural relationship with Him has become covered.

When we hear and chant or sing the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person, our consciousness becomes gradually purified of these material coverings – and thus, our awareness of our innate loving friendship with God can return. The Names of the Supreme are the Supreme Person Himself appearing in the form of spiritual sound vibration. The Supreme is always the Supreme regardless of how or where He chooses to appear. Thus, when God appears in this world as His Names, these Names remain purely spiritual in all circumstances. They are never diminished, influenced, or contaminated in any way upon coming into contact with matter. On the contrary, God’s Names have a purifying effect on the consciousness of all living beings who hear them.

Through sincerely hearing and chanting God’s Names – especially those Names that address Him in endearing ways, such as Gopala, Govinda, Rama, Madana Mohana – all that inhibits our remembrance of Him, or in any way dampens our love for Him, is dissipated. All the misguided beliefs, fears, misconceptions, and so on that we have taken on through living under the influence of material nature are eventually erased from our hearts. Thus, we can again become free to wholeheartedly love God, to resume our naturally loving relationship with Him as our dearmost, beloved Best Friend.

The more we come to know God in a close and loving way, the more we are able to realize the guidance that He makes available to us. When He sees that we are sincerely wanting a friendship with Him again, and are eager to hear and follow His instructions, He will support us in this. He will increasingly reveal Himself to us and give us the intelligence to correctly understand and follow His guidance. This will happen in exact proportion to our actual desire for this kind of relationship with Him. Inseparable from God’s unconditional love for us is His respect for our free will. God never forces His instructions, nor Himself, upon us. Rather, He offers us the opportunity to receive Him. He gives us the means by which we can remember Him, and hear, understand, and apply His instructions – but, ultimately, He leaves it up to us to choose whether or not we want to utilize the gifts that He offers us.

So, if we truly want our lives to be divinely guided – and thus experience the deep joy, peace, meaning, and fulfillment of being aligned with our highest path – then we will invite the Supreme into our lives, and into our hearts, by earnestly engaging in meditation upon His transcendental Names. We will hear and chant or sing His Names regularly, daily, as often as we can. By doing so, we put ourselves in the best position possible to directly realize the guidance that the Supreme Person gives us from within our own hearts – and also the guidance He gives us through authorized scripture (sastra) and the great self-realized, saintly persons.

The yoga system, itself, is divine guidance. It is God’s own perfect process of divine realization. Every time we engage in yoga Mantra Meditation, we are placing our self under the care and guidance of the Supreme Guide. There is no safer, happier, more sure path than being under His care. Irregardless of our current level of purity or piety – even if we feel ourselves to be very low and fallen – we can take shelter in the ability and the willingness of our Supreme Friend to guide and assist us into the full realization of our true nature and highest potential.

The most gigantic banyan tree begins its life as the tiniest of seeds. Similarly, when we sincerely invest any amount of daily effort in this yoga process, our investment will continue to grow over time, and eventually we will find a magnificent tree thriving where once there seemed only barren ground. Through yoga, we can return to our natural life of joy and harmony, of complete safety, peace, and love in the sweet embrace of our dearmost Friend. It is the path we were born to walk, the perfection of our existence, and the absolute fullest, highest, happiest expression of our being.

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

 

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

 

Purifying the Body, Mind, and Heart

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When we talk about purification, oftentimes people think first of purifying of the body. This is helpful – for we live in the body, it is our vehicle and if it is clogged up with junk, pollution, we certainly will be plagued with problems.

But there is also the mind – there is no harmony in a healthy body if there is pollution in the mind. Yes, purifying the body will support purification of the mind as they are intimately connected, but purifying the body alone will not purify the mind. So any system of purification aimed at recovering one’s natural state of being, must include purification of the mind.

And what about the heart? The peace, joy, and harmony of our true nature cannot be experienced when the heart is filled with miseries and misgivings, with selfishness, greed, and envy. In yoga philosophy these hardnesses of the heart are known as “anarthas” and are very difficult to remove. To live naturally, we must certainly address all these areas, however anarthas of the heart – which affect both our mind and body health – are the root cause of the suffering condition. Removing these anarthas must be the central focus of an effective purification process, as our heart is the center of our consciousness and we will not be free to experience the natural joy of our being without this level of purification.

Fortunately, there are methods accessible to everyone and freely available that address all these areas. In fact, one such purification system, the Vedic yoga system, has existed since time immemorial and has assisted countless hundreds of thousands of people throughout the ages to realize their natural state of harmony, joy, and peace. The yoga system is far more expansive and comprehensive than most people are aware of. Yoga is not simply a system of physical exercise (asana). Yoga is, in fact, a complete system for realizing and living one’s true natural state of being. Because the yoga system was designed to be applicable to people throughout vast spans of time, called “yugas,” different applications of it were recommended for specific ages. The current age we are living in is called “Kali Yuga.” In the next few articles, we will begin to discuss the yogic process recommended for the Age of Kali and why it is so appropriate and accessible to people of this day and age.