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

 

Naturally In Harmony – Music for Spiritual Realization

natural living in harmony music spiritual realization2

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

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

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

According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bona fide scriptures of the world, we are eternal spiritual beings only temporarily wearing the material mind and body. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.

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

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

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

So how can we realize our true nature?

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

The yoga scriptures recommend mantra meditation – meditation on sacred sounds – as the primary means for self-realization in this day and age. A mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

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

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

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

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

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Although mantra meditation is very simple, it has the potency to transition us from a materially-clouded consciousness to a fully purified, spiritual consciousness. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme.

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

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

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

 

Applying Yoga Wisdom – Freedom From Worry

yoga meditation natural living freedom from worry wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

According to the yoga scriptures and other bona fide scriptures of the world, we are not the material body or the mind – we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily wearing the material mind and body. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.

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

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

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

The method recommended by the yoga scriptures in this day and age for consciously connecting with our spiritual Source is mantra meditation. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus puts themselves in the direct presence of the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

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

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

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

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

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Yoga Mantra Meditation – A Daily Spiritual Practice Anyone Can Keep

natural living mantra meditaton spiritual practice bliss long
The end of one year and the beginning of the next is traditionally a time to reflect on the current course of our lives and make any adjustments needed to steer us in the direction that we want to go. Unfortunately, what often happens with New Year’s resolutions is that we start out very enthusiastically pursuing our goals, then become bored, distracted, discouraged, and eventually give up altogether.

The same is often true with daily practices. We often find a practice we resonate with and sincerely feel will be of great benefit to us, but then when we actually attempt to practice it regularly, daily, we encounter difficulty and distraction. Our regular practice becomes less and less regular and eventually becomes just another listing on our to do list that we rarely, if ever, get to.

I can honestly say that with every other practice I have endeavored to keep up, this has been the case with me. I would start out very enthusiastic, then my attraction would decrease over time and I would eventually lose interest altogether.

But yoga mantra meditation has been different. It is the one practice I have not only been able to maintain daily for several years now, but the pleasure I experience in it steadily grows the more that I practice. This principle is explained in the yoga texts.

Material activities often start out somewhat sweet, then the more they are repeated, the more tasteless they become to us. We can observe this principle at work in our personal experiences of material things and activities. Take, for example, a song we hear that we really like – we experience pleasure in listening to it the first ten, twenty, however many times we listen, but after listening to it many times daily, we don’t like it so much. When there is no longer pleasure in listening to it, we usually stop listening. The same is true for any material activity or thing that is repeatedly experienced with little or no variation. After a short initial period of pleasure, the more frequently we experience it, the more quickly our pleasure will decrease.

We may still engage in material activities that have little or no pleasure for us because we are hoping that whatever pleasure we once felt will return – or because we feel these activities are necessary or valuable for some larger goal of happiness. However, if we think we can achieve the goal in some more attractive way, we will likely take the more attractive option.

With activities that are truly spiritual in nature the effect is opposite. Some of us have an immediate attraction to mantra meditation. Others do not have much of an attraction in the beginning. But in either case, the more frequently that we engage in this spiritual practice, the more our pleasure grows, as does our attraction. Mantra meditation actually becomes sweeter and sweeter the more that we engage in it because it is purifying our consciousness, thus allowing us to increasingly experience its innate sweetness and the natural pleasure that blossoms from it.

So why do material activities become more tasteless, and spiritual activities become more sweet, the more that we experience them?

Because material things and activities only stimulate the mind and physical senses – they do not actually touch us, the spiritual self that is wearing the material body. Only that which is of our same nature – spiritual – can actually bring us real and lasting happiness.

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.

Because material pleasure is superficial, we grow tired of it fairly quickly. It never actually brings us the deep happiness that we long for, so we are disappointed and grow bored or frustrated with it. However, when we come in contact with something that is truly spiritual, we will immediately experience nourishment from it. If our consciousness is very covered, we may not be very consciously aware of its nourishing affects on us. If our consciousness is less covered, then we will be more aware.

There is a good example of this increase in pleasure and attraction for mantra meditation in the story of my friend’s father. When he first encountered kirtan meditation, he says he was not very attracted to it, but he was very attracted to the food they were serving at the meditation. He would travel many miles to the closest kirtan gathering every week just for the food. But as he continued to attend the kirtan, his pleasure and attraction increased. He grew to love it and has now been very happily practicing kirtan for over forty years.

Because the mantras used in this type of yoga meditation are completely spiritual sound vibrations, they are naturally nourishing to us and also purify our consciousness of the material misconceptions and other artificiality that covers our minds and hearts. Thus, every time we hear or speak them, we experience a very deep level of comfort and pleasure that continues to grow.

There are other yoga practices that go well with mantra meditation and may be supportive of our practice, but there is nothing as supportive to mantra meditation practice as the practice itself. If you are endeavoring to begin a daily mantra meditation practice and encounter any challenges, know that the best thing you can do is to simply keep practicing every day in whatever capacity you are able. If you find one type of mantra meditation (Kirtan, Japa Yoga, or Gauranga Breathing) to be too difficult for you, then practice one of the other meditations that day. If you find chanting the mantra aloud to be too difficult on a given day, then just listen intently to mantra meditation music that day, allowing your mind and heart to simply rest in the sound.

Everything that we need to purify our consciousness of all that is unnatural and realize our true nature is contained within the hearing and repeating of these spiritual sound vibrations. A real 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. When we hear and chant or sing this spiritual sound, we are putting ourselves in the direct presence of the Supreme – thus reawakening us to our loving relationship with the Supreme and the deeply fulfilling, divine joy that is inseparable from it.

The motivation to continue practicing mantra meditation is the pleasure that we experience in it and so when our consciousness is purified to the degree that we are intensely experiencing this pleasure, then no other motivation is needed. When an activity is greatly pleasurable, we do not need an external motivator. We do it because it actually makes us happy. When we experience pure pleasure in mantra meditation, our meditation is no longer a practice, but a spontaneously joyful and completely natural expression of our unadulterated self.

This is what a daily spiritual practice is meant to be. It is meant to seamlessly transition us from a materially-oriented life of artificiality to a spiritually-oriented life of spontaneous, natural joy. Mantra meditation uncovers, awakens, develops our innate tendencies toward spiritual life so that we can experience the deeply fulfilling happiness and love that is our true nature.

 

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

Kirtan

Japa Yoga

Gauranga Breathing

Why Is It Important To Know My Essence?

In Parts 1 and 2 of What Is My Essence?, we discuss scriptural and practical evidence and also exercises to help us realize that we are neither the mind nor the body. Both the mind and body are made of material energy. But we are the spiritual self (atma) that inhabits the body for some time, then leaves it. The atma does not cease existing when the body is left behind. Rather, we continue on and take on a new body according to the condition of our consciousness.

Why is it important to know our essence?

Because who we know ourselves to be is the basis for all the choices we make in life.

If we mistakenly believe that we are the material body, then our entire life will be based upon this fallacy. We will look for happiness, love, meaning, and satisfaction based upon bodily identification and be continuously disappointed and unfulfilled – no matter how hard we try or how determined we may be or how many self-improvement classes we take or professional life coaches we hire. If we think that we are the body or the mind and this is our sole focus for improving our condition, we will discover time and time again that there is no lasting joy or actual satisfaction to be found there. We may find temporary or superficial happiness, but we will not find the deeply satisfying and lasting joy, purpose, peace, and love that we seek in our heart of hearts because it is simply not there on the material level. Material pleasures do not touch the soul, they only temporarily gratify the body and mind. Because we are the non-material self (spirit soul, atma) we can only be satisfied by that which is made of the same energy that we are – by that which is transcendental, or spiritual, in nature.

There are countless incidences of people throughout history with extraordinary material opulence (beauty, fame, power, wealth, etc.) that were extremely depressed and miserable – some even committed suicide. Even though they were successful on the material level, they were devoid of spiritual fulfillment, so they suffered intensely. And in today’s societies, even though many countries are far advanced in material opulence, the citizens are so empty inside that they are miserable, sick, depressed, anxious, addicted to legal and illegal intoxicants, engaging in violent behavior, destroying themselves, each other and the environment. Even people who put themselves forward as being “spiritually advanced,” if they are not actually understanding and applying the knowledge that they are not the material body, then they are still in misery trying to satisfy a thirst unquenchable through material means.

It is one’s actual condition of consciousness that determines whether a person is truly happy or truly miserable – truly full with joy or mostly anxious and fearful with intermittent, fleeting moments of pleasure. Again, who we know ourselves to be determines whether we pursue happiness through material means or through spiritual endeavor.

If we know ourselves by the mistaken belief that we are the body and mind, we will pursue happiness through the body and mind, even if we put a spiritual label on what we are doing.

If we know ourselves as eternal spirit souls only temporarily housed in the body and mind, we will automatically and naturally pursue happiness through actual spiritual endeavor, even if it appears to others that we are just ordinary persons living ordinary lives.

It is the consciousness of the person that makes the difference, not the externals, not the label.

This is why it is so very important to have a real understanding of who we are, of what our actual essence is. Even if we only have an intellectual understanding in the beginning, that is enough to start applying this knowledge to the choices we make.  And if we continue to apply this knowledge in ways which will deepen our understanding, we will then be able to go beyond an intellectual understanding to the level at which we are naturally living it, naturally and spontaneously making our choices from the solid platform of knowing ourselves as eternal spirit souls. This is obtainable by anyone for it is simply a realization of our own true nature – natural living is the truest sense of the words.

To make steady progress in this area, it is recommended to apply ourselves sincerely and humbly, following in the footsteps laid out by great self-realized, saintly persons and the instructions of bona fide scriptures.

In this day and age, the recommended path is very simple and anyone can begin simply by adding to their daily lives the practices of kirtan, japa yoga, and/or Gauranga Breathing. Because these meditations are so transcendentally potent, even a small amount of dedicated daily practice will enable a person to gradually realize their truest nature on the deepest levels and actually become happy and fulfilled.

What Is My Essence? (Part 2)

natural living sunlight meditation

In Part 1, we discussed practical, scientific, and scriptural evidence that you are not the physical body. The next question to ponder is, if you are not the physical body, then…

Are you the mind?

According to the Vedic scriptures, you are not the mind either. The mind is also a body you are wearing, but it is made out of subtle material energy so you are not able to see it under normal circumstances. The gross physical body is like outer clothes and the subtle mental body is like underclothes. In both cases, you are the person who is temporarily wearing these bodies. But unlike the physical body, the subtle body generally stays with you, continuing to cover you after you leave your physical body at death.

A simple and practical exercise to see that you are not the mind is called the Silent Witness Technique.

Begin this exercise by sitting comfortably in a chair or on a cushion on the floor, with your back supported if possible. Close your eyes. Touch your thumb and index finger together and place the backs of your hands on your knees, palms facing upward. This is position is called chin mudra and it helps to relax the body.

Become aware of how the body is breathing automatically. Do not try to force or control the breath in any way. Simply observe the body breathing in a detached way. Say to yourself, “I am watching my body breathe, I am not the body.”

Now do the same thing with your mind. Focus your attention on the river of thoughts flowing through your mind, but don’t attempt to control the thinking process by trying to think certain thoughts and not think others. Instead, just watch the thoughts in a detached way. In the same way you might sit on the bank of a river, watching leaves, sticks, and other debris floating down the river – just sit silently on the river bank of your mind and watch thoughts, emotions, images, desires, fears, etc. just float by like debris in the mind river. Watch your mind and become aware of how you are actually aloof from the thinking process. Say to yourself, “I am the silent witness. I make no effort to think, but thoughts come automatically. I am watching thoughts flow through my mind, but I am aloof from them. I am the silent witness to my mind’s activities.” In this way, you’ll be able to experience that you are separate from the mind.

Through this exercise, you can experience that you are not the material mind or any of the thoughts and desires that flow in the mind. Rather, you are the self, the one who sits beside the constantly flowing mind-river – you are next to it, but separate from it.

You, the self, are actually made of a different type of energy than the body and the mind. According to the Vedas, there are two types of energy that make up everything in existence. One type is material energy. Material energy is dead matter. The other type of energy is life or spiritual energy. Life energy is always alive. Material energy is always dead. But when the two energies come together in a living organism, the material body inhabited by the life particle temporarily takes on characteristics of life. It appears to be alive, but that is only because the life particle or atma (self, soul) is occupying it and infusing its qualities throughout the material structure of the body. As soon as the atma leaves the material body, the body resumes its natural condition, which is that of dead matter. At this time, the physical body decomposes very fast and reverts back to the simpler elements from which it was constructed. We can observe this in all life organisms – plants, animals, humans, etc. – and so we can know that the atma inhabits all these organisms for some time, then leaves.

From the above information you can understand that your essence is life energy, or spiritual energy. Life energy is always alive and so, you, too, are always alive. You exist eternally. Your material body will at some point become useless to you and when you leave it, it will revert back to its original characteristics – that of dead matter. But you will continue on – usually in your subtle material body – and take on a new body in accordance with the condition of your consciousness.

Now that we know – intellectually, at least – that our essence is life or spiritual energy, how can this help us in our quest to experience our true nature?

To be continued in Why Is It Important To Know Our Essence?

 

Switching to a Vegetarian Diet

vegetarian eating natural living

Vegetarian eating has become increasingly popular in today’s world, which has made it easier and much more convenient for people to switch to a vegetarian diet. Because more people are choosing to eat vegetarian, more vegetarian options are available in grocery stores, restaurants, cook books, schools, and elsewhere in mainstream society.  A vast wealth of vegetarian information, ideas, products, and recipes are now available on the Internet.

Why the switch? People are switching for personal health reasons, environmental health, ethical, theological, and even financial reasons. (This excellent Vegetarian Times article goes into more detail about why many people make the switch.)

In the ancient yoga texts, it is explained that the type of food a person eats cultivates a certain type of consciousness. Vegetarian food (which in the yoga system includes dairy, but not eggs) is said to cultivate a Sattva type of consciousness. Sattva mode of consciousness is the “mode of Goodness.” It is a calm, peaceful, harmonious state of consciousness. When in Sattva mode, one can cultivate a more peaceful and harmonious lifestyle and can more readily grasp higher wisdom. This is not to say that simply eating a vegetarian diet will automatically put one in a peaceful state of mind and body, but switching to a vegetarian diet (especially a whole-foods diet) can greatly assist a person in cultivating a more peaceful and harmonious life.

If switching to a vegetarian diet is something you are wanting to do, here is some advice for making the switch.

Write down your reasons. Figure out why you, personally, are choosing to switch to a vegetarian diet and write your reasons down on paper. Post the paper in your kitchen (or in your personal space) and also make a copy to carry with you. If there are times when you are tempted to give up or go astray, re-read your reasons – remind yourself why it is important to you to be doing what you are doing and allow yourself to honor your higher aspirations. If transitioning to vegetarian with your whole family, this is an activity you can do together. Make a colorful poster together or inspiration book with hand-drawn pictures. You can even do a blog or Facebook page of your journey to encourage and inspire  others.

Be realistic. Are you the type of person who can make drastic changes easily? Or are you more successful with gradual change? Are you making the switch by yourself or are you transitioning as a family? If you are choosing the gradual approach, you may want to start with one or two days per week of eating vegetarian then gradually increasing the number of days per week until you are eating completely vegetarian. Another gradual approach is to remove one animal the first week, then one additional animal per week until you are eating completely vegetarian.

Keep your eye on the big picture. In the larger scheme of things, you probably want not only to be eating a vegetarian diet, but a healthy vegetarian diet. However, in the beginning, be especially easy on yourself. Take advantage of vegetarian food in restaurants and the amazing variety of pre-made vegetarian food at local grocery stores to assist you in staying on track. If treating your family to their favorite meatless pizza a couple times per week, using premade meat-substitutes, allowing kids to top foods with ketchup or grated cheese, or having a  ice-cream sundae celebration at the end of each successful week of vegetarian eating makes it easier for you to maintain and more fun for everyone, then it’s healthful in the bigger picture. Experiment with easy vegetarian whole foods recipes and healthy condiments along the way and make your own recipe book full of the well-liked ones. Remember, especially in the beginning, make it as easy as possible. You can fine-tune your eating as time goes on. 

Make the switch with a friend. If possible, find a friend or even a Facebook buddy to make the switch with you. Not only will you be encouraging to each other, but you can share ideas, recipes, and maybe even dinner once a week at your favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurant.

Learn the plant sources for your essential nutrients. Some people are concerned about not getting enough protein or iron or B-12 in their diets on an animal-free diet. If you are concerned about not getting enough of a particular nutrient that you were previously getting through animal sources, simply do a little research on the Internet. Whatever nutrients you can obtain through eating animals are also available through plant-based sources. You can also take whole-food supplements or buy vitamin-enriched vegetarian foods.

Keep it simple. Stick to quick & easy recipes, especially in the beginning. There are plenty of easy vegetarian recipes available for free on the Internet. And there are many vegetarian meals that can be made with the same basic ingredients – such as rice & beans, pasta & tempeh, tofu & veges – then just add a tasty sauce and viola, you have a delicious new meal. Take advantage of pre-made sauces or make your own!

Have fun! Think of it this way, by switching to a vegetarian diet, you are walking into a whole new world of culinary delights. Explore, experiment, and enjoy!

Remember to nourish yourself spiritually. If you are nourished and happy on a spiritual level, it will help you to make healthy choices for your mind and body. When we are satisfied in our hearts, feeling full of love and peaceful in our hearts, we are less likely to be swayed by cravings for foods and activities that are undesirable. Fill yourself spiritually every day and you will find it much easier to be satisfied on other levels.

Here are a few more web resources to encourage and inspire you:

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

No Meat Athlete 

Zen Habits

People have been eating healthy vegetarian diets since time immemorial – you can, too.