Who Is Krishna?

krsna n cow who is krishna natural living bhakti yoga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

who is Krishna natural living symasundara-crop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

who is krsna naturally living flute

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

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

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

 

Developing A Personal Relationship With God Through Bhakti Yoga

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

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

So what is yoga?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Understanding Death in the Light of Yoga Wisdom

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

So, what is death?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing


Knowing God As Our Best Friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

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

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

 

Who am I? Realizing our Eternal Position and Function

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

 

Resolving Problems Through Yoga Wisdom – Healing Conflict

couple holding hands heart resolving conflict relationships naturally living yoga resize

When our relationship with someone we care about is in distress, it is important to take responsibility for our part in the matter. Even if the other person has also done or said hurtful things, it is still very important that we allow ourselves to see our own contributions to the problem. This way, we can feel sincerely sorry for our mistakes or faults and apologize accordingly. When we are willing to take these essential first steps, the way is opened for healing to take place.

However, sometimes, even if in our hearts we feel very sad about the state of our relationship, we still cannot seem to bring ourselves to see our part, feel remorse for our actions, and apologize. Instead we feel anger and frustration. Our mind cannot help but focus on how the other person, or some other person, or something else is responsible. Deep in our hearts, we fear that we are at fault, too, in some way – yet seeing this fault clearly feels like it is beyond our abilities. When we feel stuck in defense mode, conflicted, unable to act in a way that will remedy the situation, what can we do?

There are many different ways we can approach this kind of a problem, but if we are seeking a permanent solution to any problem in life, looking at the situation from the yoga, or Vedic, perspective will always be helpful. The ancient yoga texts offer us a transcendental understanding of our situation, which we can apply to any problem we encounter and thus have access to transcendental solutions.

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.

Even though we are eternal spirit souls, when we take on a material form, we simultaneously take on the pervasive misconception that we are that material form. Our true identity as a purely spiritual being is covered by the misunderstanding that we are made of matter – that we are the mind and body that our consciousness is clothed in. We experience ourselves through the lens of that form, completely convinced that it is us. Our sense of self comes from the characteristics of the material “clothes” we are wearing. If we are born in a female body, we think I am a woman or girl. I am a particular age, ethnicity, nationality, economic and social status, religion, mentality. We think I am this or that – all referring to the material mind and body that we are wearing.

Through living in this way, with our true identity covered, we come to form ideas in our mind about who we are – again, all related to the mind and body. We think I am a good person, an intelligent person, competent, kind, honest, caring, hard-working, respectable, independent. We invest our sense of self-worth in this image of ourselves and derive whatever happiness and feeling of safety that we can from it. We essentially base our life upon this false image of ourselves.

When this image is threatened by something we have done or by someone accusing us in a way that seems contrary to this image, we feel compelled to defend it. We feel as though we are being attacked because we think the image is us. We are reluctant to see the situation in any way that will jeopardize this image of ourselves and will often cause so much unnecessary suffering for ourselves and others to protect this false identity. We will twist our words and minds in so many ways to try to avoid seeing things as they are. But in our hearts we will feel something is very wrong and will not find any real peace and until we are able to see clearly.

It is a difficult situation, but not without a solution. All we need to do is purify our consciousness of the false conceptions of self that we have taken on – then everything will become clear to us. It is only our holding on to the false ideas that keeps us from the wisdom and love that resides eternally in our hearts.

In the yoga scriptures, the recommended method of purification for this day and age 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 sincere, daily practice of any of the yoga mantra meditations we discussed in earlier articles (Kirtan, Japa Yoga, and Gauranga Breathing), the false ideas about ourselves are able to naturally fall away and our true nature as individual spirit souls, part and parcel of the Supreme Soul, is revealed. In this, our true identity, there is a natural harmony, joy, and peace. All the needs that we were trying so desperately to fulfill through false ideas about our self are able to easily be fulfilled through realizing who we really are and engaging in our natural function in loving relationship with the Supreme.

Through a transcendental perspective of the situation, we can see things as they are. When we are faced with the choice between holding on to something that has no real value (false ideas of self) or to give it up for something that does – for actual love, peace, integrity, happiness – the choice will be clear.

In this consciousness, we will be able to recognize our imperfections and apologize for whatever ways we have caused harm to another, even inadvertently. Feelings of genuine concern and care for others that arise naturally from the growing love in our hearts will inspire us to try to ease the suffering of others and rectify our actions accordingly.

When we make the conscious choice to use all of our life situations in service of our quest to realize our true nature – to live in integrity – then all life situations can become this for us. Distress in life is inevitable, but when we approach this distress with a willingness to learn and grow from it, we will. Utilizing the transcendental wisdom of bona fide scripture in the quest for self realization is essential. The first step is hearing – then we must apply what we learn.

The purification of our consciousness is a gradual process, but well within the reach of absolutely any person who sincerely applies themselves. As we continue to practice these very simple, yet potent methods of yoga mantra meditation, everything becomes increasingly clear. The rewards of living a life of integrity and wisdom – of a life in harmony with the Supreme and all living beings – makes every effort more than worthwhile.

 

Here are some nice quotes on Apologizing to inspire you:

Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.
Margaret Lee Runbeck

It takes a great deal of character strength to apologize quickly out of one’s heart rather than out of pity. A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologize.
Stephan Covey

In some families, please is described as the magic word.  In our house, however, it was sorry.
Margaret Laurence

Apologizing does not always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your (false) ego.
– Anonymous

 

Finding Real Shelter in Hard Times – Part 2

woman tree roots natural living

As discussed in earlier articles, we are spiritual beings currently living in a material body. Because of this, we have grown accustomed to operating on the superficial, material level. We look for safety in material ideas and objects, trying to take shelter, trying to find a sense of happiness, peace, and solace in so many things. Some people turn to intoxicants or other forms of escapism in times of trouble. Others take some comfort in having accumulated monetary wealth, social prestige or power. Some try to take shelter in having a great amount of creative talent, a sharp intellect, or physical beauty. Some people feel a certain measure of safety in being very pious or austere. There are even those who try to find peace in steering their mind toward positive thoughts. There are so many material things – mental and physical – that people try to take shelter in and although they may experience some measure of comfort, they never actually reach a level of feeling completely safe, completely happy. Instead they experience persistent anxiety, restlessness, discontent, and an insatiable desire for something they do not have.

If a person is taking shelter in something material, they are putting themselves in a very precarious position. The nature of material things is that they are temporary and can be easily lost or destroyed through unexpected circumstances. The fear of loss associated with things considered essential to a person’s happiness causes constant anxiety. So by taking shelter in material things, a person will not only be in constant anxiety about losing his false shelter, but he will be making himself vulnerable to intense misery and suffering in the event of its actual loss. Many times people take shelter in having a happy marriage, a loving family, lots of money, a prestigious position in society, or good physical or mental health, then lose it suddenly,  and they are completely devastated. And you will see others who experience devastating material loss and yet they are not devastated. Why?

Because these people, while they may be appreciating the material gifts that come to them, they do not base their happiness upon them. They may be experiencing some superficial happiness or distress from them, but much deeper than this superficial happiness or distress that comes and goes with the waves of material fortune, is a connection to a spiritual source of happiness. The happiness they are experiencing is through a permanent, soul-level connection which they have cultivated through spiritual activities. Even when the person, the soul, leaves the body at the time of death, this connection remains and the person can continue to grow this spiritual connection lifetime after lifetime. This is real shelter. It is transcendental to material circumstances and one who cultivates this deep connection and takes complete shelter in it, will not experience anxiety in life or devastation at death – because their happiness does not depend on material circumstances.

This state of deep spiritual connection cannot be achieved through material means. It cannot be attained through positive thinking or creative visualization. It cannot be developed simply by joining an organization or taking on a new label or belief system. It is not a material thing to be bought and sold, awarded, earned, or inherited.  And it cannot be faked. The only means to attain this connection is through an individual person’s sincere cultivation of it in conjunction with the Supreme. This is because this connection is a relationship. More specifically, it is a unique, personal relationship that an individual soul develops with the Supreme Soul.

In the Vedic yoga texts, a method for cultivating this connection is prescribed for each age, or yuga. In this particular age, the method is very simple and accessible to all. A person can cultivate a loving relationship with the Supreme by regularly hearing and repeating the transcendental names of the Supreme. These names are purely spiritual and inseparable from the Supreme, so by hearing and chanting them, one is actually placing oneself in direct contact with the Supreme. This direct contact has been compared to the sun. As the sun purifies physical objects of impurities, direct contact with the Supreme purifies a person’s consciousness of impurities. As a person continues to chant these names, his consciousness becomes more and more clear and his love for Supreme naturally flourishes.

The soul who sincerely and humbly strives to cultivate this relationship will feel a deep and constant spiritual happiness growing in his heart as a natural result of the growing relationship and actual love that he is feeling. It is this relationship –  and the happiness, fulfillment, safety, peace, love that inherently belongs with it – that allows a person to be strengthened, comforted, nourished, revitalized, inspired even in the midst of material difficulty and tragedy. Even a small measure of growth, of sincere trust and love in this relationship, can help a person remain steady and comforted throughout unwanted material difficulty. And, as a person continues to cultivate this relationship, continues to take shelter in the Supreme – all the while regularly hearing and repeating the names of Supreme – he will find that inevitable difficulties can actually serve to deepen and strengthen this very special connection. When a person has the opportunity to realize this for himself, through his own personal experience, he will know that he has found real shelter.

Kirtan, Japa Yoga, and Gauranga Breathing are three excellent yoga meditations that incorporate the hearing and repeating of the transcendental names of the Supreme. For detailed instructions on these simple meditations that anyone can do, please follow the links below:

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing