Author Archives: Swami Nirmalananda

Traditional Tales and Mystical Meanings

By Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

The mythic dimension of our lives is a doorway to the mystical dimension of our beings.  Today we welcome a new writer to our blog team, a yogi who grew up with these stories in her native Sri Lanka.  The classical Hindu tales always offer a yogic teaching, which I will draw out in each blog, both to warm your heart as well as to expand your understanding.

Nirooshitha Sethuram is a Svaroopa® yoga teacher in America, bringing both western and Hindu perspectives to our profound yogic tradition.  She explains, “The Mango Story is the first story that most Hindu children hear from their parents.  Very simple, yet very rich in its essence.”

 

The Mango Story

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

It was another beautiful day on Mt.  Kailash, where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were with their two children, Ganesha and Karttikeya.

On this day Sage Narada was visiting.  Narada is the son of Brahma, the creator, also known to be the creator of problems which end in goodness to the world.  Narada brought a special mango in his hand, claiming he had come to pay respects to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, but they knew that it was not the case.  He was there to start some mischief.  They were right; he had come to test the two children, Ganesha and Karttikeya.

Sage Narada offered the special mango to Lord Shiva, saying it was a very special mango, sweeter than the nectar of any fruit there was.  Narada also said it was to be eaten by one person only and should not be shared.  With a smile, Lord Shiva asked, “Have you started to execute your mischief yet?”  Then Shiva said, “I can’t eat it, as I share everything with Parvati,” so He offered it to Parvati.  Parvati said that She can’t have it either, as She also shares everything with Lord Shiva.

Sage Narada pretended to be sad because they rejected what he offered, though he was happy that his plan was working.  He says, “Oh my Lord, please, one of you in your family should eat it!  Maybe it can be one of your children.”  Knowing what was happening, Lord Shiva called for his sons, Ganesha and Karttikeya.

Shiva said, “I have a mango which cannot be shared, so one of you can have it.”  Both Ganesha and Karttikeya said, “I want it, I want it…”  Sage Narada, pretending to be shocked, said, “I had no idea that the children will fight for it.”  Lord Shiva smiled and said to Narada in a low voice that only he can hear, “You purposely brought this mango, knowing this would happen…” Goddess Parvati continued, “Yes, I agree, but we need to resolve this now.”

Lord Shiva said, “My dear children, this is the time in your life in which you must face the world.  Unless you know your world, you cannot lead your life in prosperity.  Both of you must travel around the world three times.  The first one to return will get the mango.”  Narada was extremely happy that his plan was being executed.

Karttikeya was a beautiful strong boy born to defeat demons, whereas Ganesha had the head of an elephant, with a potbelly and short stubby legs.  Kartikeya’s vehicle was a peacock and Ganesh’s vehicle was a mouse.  Karttikeya was thinking his brother didn’t have a chance, so without a word he jumped on his peacock and off he went.  With great determination Karttikeya flew around the world.  Along the way, he faced terrible storms, fought with demons and helped people in danger.  His journey was much more difficult than he thought.  His thoughts went back to his brother, “Oh, my poor brother.  How is he going to survive all this while competing for the mango?”

Ganesha knew he will not be able to win the race on his mouse and started thinking.  Then an idea struck him.  He said, “My parents, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, are my world, therefore I will go around them thrice.”  Ganesha fastened a tiny harness around Mushika, his mouse.  He went thrice around his parents and was just receiving the mango from Goddess Parvati when Karttikeya returned after circling the world thrice.

Karttikeya saw Ganesha holding the mango in his hand.  He was so angry!  He said that Ganesha had done nothing while he traveled around the world.  “So have I,” replied Ganesh.  He said, “I traveled all around my father and mother.  They are my world.”

Karttikeya knew what had happened, and though he knew his brother won it fair and square, he still got angry with his parents.  Seeing this, Ganesha offered the mango to Karttikeya.  But Karttikeya flew away on his peacock, leaving all his luxuries, including all his clothes.  He went to a hill known as “Palani” in the south of India (palani = palam + nee in the Tamil language, meaning, “you are the fruit”).

Goddess Parvati came right behind Karttikeya to bring him back to Kailash.  When She arrived, She said to him, “You both have won in your own ways.  Karttikeya, you won by your single-minded determination and endurance, while your brother Ganesha won by balance of heart, mind, love and intellect.”  Hearing this from his beloved mother, Karttikeya was satisfied and lifted out of his anger.  He became calm and happily went back to Kailash with his mother.  He apologized to his father, Lord Shiva, and to his brother Ganesh, for his earlier behavior.

Lord Shiva, through Sage Narada’s drama, wanted to show everyone that their parents are their first world.  He also wanted to show that you could gather knowledge and answers by traveling the world as Karttikeya did, or stay in the same place looking inward to get them as Ganesha did.  Om Namah Shivaya.

 

Mystical Meanings

By Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

My Guru told us this story many times, but with one small alteration.  Ganesha decided to circle his parents three times because they are the source and container of all the worlds.  Shiva is the primordial reality, who has taken form within this universe, sitting on Mt. Kailasa so that He is in the world that He has created.  He is not merely an observer; He is a participant-observer.  That makes Him available to us!

Shree Parvati is a human girl who became a Goddess, specifically for the purpose of marrying Shiva.  She had a head start, of course, for She was an incarnation of the primordial energy, Shakti, drawn into human birth by the pleas of humankind.  Her intense practices transformed her into a Goddess, which She already was, as are you.  But you need to do some work on yourself before you discover your inherent Divinity.

Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati sit on Mt. Kailasa, both in the world and beyond the world.  They are the substance and energy of which the world is made, which means the world is within them, while they are within it.  Ganesha used this mystical truth to win the race, and his boon was not only a mango, but that he would be invoked at the beginning of every ceremony and every venture.  It is Ganesha that opens the doorway to the celestial and cosmic realms, so every puja (classical ceremony) begins with worship of Ganesha .

This mystical truth is true of you as well, you are in the universe, but the universe is within you.  When you look outside, you can see only part of the universe, plus you get ensnared in it,  When you look inside, you see the whole, which is the universe and the One who has become it, who is Shiva, who is you.

Perception: What Color are Your Glasses?

By Mangala Allen

When life’s challenges seem insurmountable, you are caught in the tangled web of your mind.  Swami Muktananda described it like you’re looking at the world through tinted glasses, altering the color of what you see.  Your mind is colored by your past experiences and the reactions you still suffer from.  Your expectations for how things should be add another layer to your inner process.  Your get lost in a chaotic cycle of expectation, desire and disappointment.

image from pixabay.com

“Change the color of your glasses,” Muktananda used to say.  When you dissolve the tinted lenses of your mind, you are liberated from the chaotic cycle.  How do you do this?  Look within.  Discover the treasure inside that is your very own Self.  You are Consciousness-itself.

Consciousness contracts to become you but, while contracting, makes you forget who you are.  As your mind clears you recognize your Self as Consciousness.  Then, you see everyone and everything as an expression of Consciousness.  Your perception is profoundly different when the light of Consciousness illumines you from within.

“The world exists solely to support your spiritual upliftment.  Everything is conspiring to liberate you.”

— Swami Nirmalananda*

I always had a fear of using computers.  When I started my Master’s degree, at the age of 50, I had to learn to use a computer so I could research and write papers.  I never got beyond this stage.  I was afraid I would push the wrong button and create an entanglement that no one could unravel.  Circumstances kept arising that required me to have more computer skills but I shied away from learning anything new.

I was reacting to the clutter in my mind with anxiety; my fear was holding me back.  Eventually Swami Nirmalananda gave me seva that required learning new computer skills.  This time I chose to face my fear.  It ultimately dissolved.

This profoundly simple choice would not have been possible for me before yoga.  My practices have helped me discover what is inside.  I am more than I knew.  I discover more about myself everyday, now that I see life’s challenges as ways to experience the Consciousness I am.

Practice yoga to find the deeper dimension within you.  As you become aware of the ever-arising flow of bliss inside, you no longer need externals to support you.  You are supported from within, experiencing things as they are, without longing for them to be different.  No longer compelled to action, you choose how and when to respond — based on a clear view of the circumstances at hand.  You’re looking at the world through Consciousness-colored lenses.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo namah

To your Inherent Divinity again and again I bow.

* Contemplation Article – It’s All for You! – February 2017

Mind, Intellect, and Ego

By Mati Gilbert

Mommy-Ears!  If you have had a child or cared for one, you know what this is. It is your ability to know, without hearing a sound or cry, that your child needs you — before or just as it happens. At this time in life, this is a blessing. When my son was an infant, I would sit outside his bedroom door, just listening. Later, somehow, some way, my Mommy-Ears were activated. I could sleep comfortably in my bed, being aware. This was before electronic baby monitors.

This ability becomes a curse when you take comments about your child to heart, even taking it as a criticism of your parenting. This can happen if your child fails a test, gets into a fight does something not sanctioned as good. “OMG!  People will think I am a terrible mother. How could I let this happen?”

The opposite is also true. You might like to share stories about your child’s good deeds with others. “See, I am a good Mom,” patting yourself on the back. This is your ego kicking in! In reality, your child is an individual who must grow into taking credit or blame for his or her own actions. And you must deal with your ego, without taking it out on your kids or using it to hog-tie them.

Ego is one of your mind’s three functions:

  • your outward-looking (always busy) mind,
  • your intellect which analyzes and names,
  • and your ego which uses outer things to create your sense of identity.

When you accept credit or blame for a thought or action, you’re using it to create an identity that you feel good or bad about.

Mind and intellect work together to empower you to perceive things, as well as analyze, classify, and categorize. Your highest use of them is to prioritize finding your own inner Self — your Divinity, which is already complete within. Ego, the function of mind that creates your identity, then identifies with Consciousness, which is your own Self.

“The ego knows that if your sense of smallness were to go, it too would have to go. The ego shows you to yourself in a wrong light.” — Swami Muktananda

Ego is your mind’s ability to build a sense of self when you say “I,” creating the limited sense of “I am a woman,” “I am a mom.” When you remove the last word in each of these phrases, you end up with “I am.” Now the “I” is pure Consciousness.

Swami Nirmalananda says, “Once you receive Shaktipat, you are on the path toward the knowing of your own inner Divinity. As you grow into your Self, your ego is transformed.  It is put in service to Consciousness.”

When my son returned home from college, my Mommyy-Ears were again activated. They hadn’t gone away, but had been dormant. I would lie in bed waiting for him to come home, not asleep and not awake, just aware.

Finally, my intellect told me my ego was not involved in this. My son, now an adult, is responsible for his own actions. I care but I’m not in charge. That night, I turned off my Mommy-Ears. I let go of that identity, moving past my ego and past my mind, which freed me to open my heart and find the inner knowing of my own inherent Divinity.

A Dawn in Me

By Yogeshwari Fountain 

“Morning is when I am awake, and there is a dawn in me.”
— Henry David Thoreau

I was sixteen and these words pierced my heart.  Immediately, I recognized the truth:

What was happening outside of me,

was also happening inside of me,

and that my body might even hold the universe within it.

But how could this be?

I remember feeling bigger than I’d ever imagined. I had a glimmer that the morning’s dawn was an inner state, ever capable of arising within me. I knew even then that my path to “finding myself“ was going to be a mystical one. That realization, was both comforting and empowering for a lonely teenager, insecure and wanting to “fit in” with the in-crowd.

http://timlaman.photoshelter.com Sunrise Walden Pond

I now know that Thoreau was studying yogic texts when he was living at Walden Pond. Then, as now, yoga’s teachings promise that — no matter what things look like on the outside — there is a greater Reality embodying and guiding my life.

Yoga names this Reality “Shiva,” permeating while manifesting everything that exists, including you and me. When we see differences (good vs. bad, dark vs. light, or fullness vs. need), Shiva is reflecting Shiva within himself, for there is only One Reality. A yogic text from centuries ago, states it this way:

As here, so elsewhere”Shiva Sutras 3.14

“Here” means right now, in the physical body you live in.  While your breath, organs, senses and sensations are pulsing within you, that same energy is pulsating outside of you, being the universe. Everything is made of the same Divine Essence, whether you yet perceive this or not. For example, sometimes at the end of yoga class, during a very deep guided awareness, my breath slows down so much, I become absorbed in an inner stillness, and wonder: “Who is breathing who?”

This sutra, “As here, so elsewhere”, also describes the mystical powers of a Self-Realized Being.  By adhering to a prescribed path, great Yogis and Yoginis, attain a level of mastery that supersedes our limited understanding of time and space. They can manifest anything and can be anywhere and everywhere, all at the same time. Just as Jesus turned water in wine and Moses parted the Red Sea, there are countless miracle stories in every spiritual tradition and religion that describe this phenomenon: the mystery of a reconfiguration of cosmic energy.

These acts are for the purpose of human upliftment. A Self-Realized Master lives in the total freedom of all-pervasive Knowingness. Whether in deep meditation or engaged in mundane activities, their inner and outer state remain the same.

I recall watching my own Guru, Swami Nirmalananda, in the Ashram kitchen one day, preparing a pot of morning chai. To me, she seemed to be in a total state of Self-absorption, called samadhi in Sanskrit. While stirring in the ingredients, asking questions of me, being fully present to everyone and everything going on around her, she remained inside and outside, all at once. That cup of chai tasted divine!

It would have been a miracle had Thoreau’s transcendent words propelled me into Self-Realization at the tender age 16! Yet the seeds were planted. While inspired words from classic literature will open a window into your soul, it is the grace of a living Guru that can take you all the way, beyond soul, to your own divine Self!

Through Shaktipat initiation, the Guru awakens the divine Consciousness laying dormant within you. Then you see everything on your life’s path with a new clarity and purpose.

Because of their being established in the Self, being in the presence of a Master shifts you deeper inside to the knowing of your own Self as well. This also happens through repeating an enlivened mantra and meditating, the greatest of the many gifts my Guru has given me. When I practice with consistency, these practices reveal that morning happens when I am awake to Consciousness. I experience the Dawn AS me, the ever effulgent light of Beingness-Itself.

Living A Divine Life

By Niranjan Matanich
I recently watched a documentary on the Grateful Dead. During one of the segments, their sound engineer told a story about going on stage to adjust the microphone. On his way back to his seat, the band started playing the song  and it stopped the guy. He was completely caught up in the moment. He was tearing up while retelling this story.

I immediately thought, “he’s describing an experience of the Self.” I also thought about how every moment could be like this. And, even though he was having this moment, all was accomplished: the microphone was adjusted and the song was being recorded. It was on their live album, Europe 72.

I previously thought you can only have profound spiritual experiences while you are doing a dedicated spiritual practice like chanting, meditating, japa, arati, etc. But you can and do have profound experiences, probably a lot more than you think. You may not recognize what’s really happening, that this is an experience of the Self, an experience of your own Divinity. Just like the guy who was caught up in the song, you get caught up in those moments, maybe when you eat something good, or you see scenery that is breath-taking, or maybe it’s music. We all have these experiences.

Swami Nirmalananda says, “This is an experience of God. Nobody likes to use the ‘G-word’ any more, but God is always present, whether you’re paying attention or not. When you experience God on the inside, yoga calls it ‘Self.’ But your experience of God is always on the inside! Even if you look for God outside, your experience of God is inside. So yoga says, look inside. And when you find God inside, you’ll discover who you are. It happens all the time. God’s available all the time.”

We all have these experiences. When you realize that you are having a profound spiritual experience, it is even more amazing. The very act of recognition brings a special amazement.

I find that these moments are even more exceptional than things I have experienced in meditation. But that’s not surprising. We are meant to experience our own Divinity in the midst of our lives. That is what drew me to the Kashmiri Shaivite tradition. You don’t have to go to a cave, you don’t have to renounce all your belongings, you don’t have to leave your spouse, your kids, your job, none of those things. You can know that you are the Self all the time, in the midst of your life.

The more I have these experiences, the more profound my life becomes, and the more profound the realizations become. A yogic text speaks of this:

vismayo yogabhumika.h — Shiva Sutras 1.12
Yogic realizations are truly amazing.

An experience of the Self is just a shift of awareness away. The more you experience your own Self, the more you will have experiences and the more you will recognize them.
It is promised in the texts that eventually the experience will become permanent. How amazing is that? It’s miraculous.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo namah
To your Inherent Divinity again and again I bow.

Fire and Cleansing

By Mati Gilbert

The 50s and 60s family comedy shows on TV were quite predictable.  Each person in the family had his/her role, reflecting society at that time.  They reinforced my feeling that I had to be good: the good daughter, good student, good employee, good friend, good wife and good mother. It was exhausting! Don’t get me wrong – I was not unhappy.  I wanted to make others’ lives easier. I guess I was depending on their approval to make me happy.

Citivahnir avarohapade canno-pi maatrayaa meyendhanam plu.syati

– Pratyabhij~nah.rdayam 14

Chiti does not lose Her nature even when She becomes the individual, but burns up the separation, like fuel is assimilated into a fire.

– rendered by Swami Nirmalananda

Swamiji goes to say “When a fire burns a stick of wood, the wood is not gone.  It became the fire and a residue remains – ash.  In the same way, the limitations that Chiti has taken on in order to be you are incinerated in the fire of consciousness (lit by the Guru).

Chiti is Consciousness, being every thing that exists. She becomes you as an individual and is enjoying being you.  But Chiti is more.  Chiti is also the fire that is ignited within, that gives you the inner knowing of your own inherent Divinity.  The igniting of this fire is the initiation, called Shaktipat, which is the awakening of Consciousness within you – Kundalini.  Kundalini is Chiti, who succeeds in giving you your Self, yet some ash remains – your personhood continues, completely transformed.

Life goes on.  You do not lose your individuality, you gain the knowing and being of your Self.  You participate in life, being with others and doing things in the world.  However, you do not depend on them to make you happy, or to make you feel whole.

Swami Nirmalananda is my Guru, my Master Teacher.  She shows me my Divinity, which incinerates my limitations so they no longer control me.  I am still opening my mind and heart to the experience of my own Divinity.  I sometimes hang onto my limitations, including parts of my past and my present, but they are not me.  As I go along this path, Swamiji anchors in me my Divinity even in the midst of everyday life.

I don’t lose my individuality by following a Guru.  I still strive to be “good.”  It’s not about making others happy any more, but I do it because it is in my nature.

Thank you, Swami Nirmalananda for giving me the enlivened mantra and meditation.  Both tools provide the breakthrough giving me my own inner Divinity, my Self.  My meditations are becoming deeper so I will become one with Consciousness.  This is my future.

Delusion or Realization — You Choose!

By Mangala Allen

I have lived my life in a world of delusion. What I thought was real is not. The only reality is that God lives within me as me; and God lives within you as you. When we meet, it is Shiva meeting Shiva in a moment of recognition when it is real, but non-recognition when it is delusion.

Delusion is full of expectations and desires. How I should be, how you should be, how life should unfold. When the external world doesn’t fulfill these expectations and desires, nothing ever seems good enough. I’ve proved that trying to control or change the world to meet my expectations is journey fraught with struggle and disappointment.

When I am in denial, I say or think, “Oh, this can’t be right.” Or, “This just can’t be happening.” It’s like I have blinders on, with very limited vision. I don’t allow myself to experience what is really happening. I employ whatever escape mechanism I can, to keep me from facing the reality of my experience. I have proved that this never works. The lesson I’ve avoided always comes back – until I honor it by looking it square in the face.

My teacher, Swami Nirmalananda, wrote about this in A Yogi in the Real World:

“You must cultivate the ability to stay open to everything that happens. Accept it as it is, and be who you are. Only then can you help. Only then can you serve. This is the only way you can fulfill your life’s purpose.”

This article was written as we were reeling from the events of 9/11/2001. It is as relevant today as it was then. It stems from this eternal truth,

“Nothing exists that is not Shiva.” – Swami Muktananda.

If it is happening it is the infinite unfolding of Consciousness. My experience of it is propelling me toward the enlightenment I seek. By looking away, I lose my journey. I get confused, not knowing who I am. I forget and get lost. When I am lost, I cannot help myself or anyone else.

I have received many gifts from my teacher, practices that open me to experience my own Divinity. The most effective of these is meditation; yoga’s other practices prepare me for this inward exploration. Each time I go inside, I allow more of my Self to permeate my being. I am able to recognize my Self in myself, and see that very same Self all around me.

Cultivating my ability to stay open to everything that happens frees me from my limitations. It frees me from fear as I open to new experiences in the infinite realm of possibility. Accepting things as they are, lets me assess clearly the ways I can serve. Recognizing and being who I am, supports me as I act without expectation. I simply am who I am, doing what I can, in service to all. This is when I am most alive!

As a human being, I am privy to experiences I could not have in any other form. Each day I am able to live these experiences with a vibrancy I never could have imagined before. It is through study with Swami Nirmalananda that I have come to know how unique, yet all encompassing, this human experience is. I choose Divine Realization.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo namah

To your Inherent Divinity again and again I bow.

Getting Out of Lock-Up

By Yogeshwari Fountain

Even though I have never been in a prison, when my mind gets obsessive, it clearly creates one for me. Swami Muktananda, a Self-Realized master of the last century, had a profound message for people who actually were locked up in prison. Although their fate seemed sealed, he viewed incarceration as fertile ground for spiritual growth and transformation:

“Everything depends on your attitude. If you change your attitude about a place, then no matter where you are, that place becomes heaven for you.”

Muktananda assured inmates that their time in prison was not unlike living in an Ashram. Both feature solitary reflection, work routine and the enforced discipline of regular meals, exercise and bedtime. These ultimately lead to a life of self-discipline and service to others. He advocated an inner turnaround, with mantra and meditation as the source. With this pursuit of an inner spiritual life, he promised you will find the divine hidden in the mundane and can trust in God’s plan for the future.

This sure sounds like yoga to me.

In life, you can oscillate between moments of acceptance, and moments of fear and objection. An unresolved tension with a parent or friend, a regret over a past mistake and worrying about the future, all become a prison of your own making. When your thoughts wall you in, you feel separate and small, identified with your pain.

But this is not the end of the story.

According to yoga’s modern and ancient sages, the predicament we find ourselves in is not our fault! Consciousness creates this contraction within its own vastness, by coalescing through multiple levels to become your mind and body. Therefore, your divinity is hidden within you, full and complete, waiting to be revealed. This revelation is the purpose of the science and practices of Yoga.

There are so many ways to access this deeper dimension of your own Self. I was surprised to discover that outer discipline gives me an immense inner freedom – it works well when I eat my meals on a regular schedule, go to bed at the same time each night, chant and meditate the same time each morning and repeat mantra out loud at regular intervals. “Yogify-ing” my life has made my mind progressively quieter, and my heart, full of joy. I more fully embody the very Consciousness that is being me. The Sanskrit word is sadhana: a personal daily practice that is steeped in Grace.

When you apply yourself to the freedom that comes with a yogic lifestyle, your Divine Essence spreads into every nook and cranny of your life. Then what you see inside is what you see outside, for the One who is looking is the Self. And when “Life” happens to you, and things get tough, all it will take is a change of perspective, and repeating mantra, and you’ll be right there: experiencing a Grace beyond all understanding. As Baba says, “Then no matter where you are, that place becomes a heaven for you.”

The prison bars we create are made of string, easily dissolved by the light of Consciousness. This means you can step through those bars in any given moment. Be free, for truly, the only prison is the one you create inside.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

Your Path to Knowing and Being Your Own Self

Mati Gilbert

By Mati Gilbert & Swami Nirmalananda

I held myself back from totally connecting with anyone and anything for most of my life.  Sure, I joined programs and interacted with family, friends, and others, but I wasn’t really committed.  I always held out a piece of me that was just for me.  It was my way of keeping some control over my life and me.  I couldn’t completely surrender to anything.  Then I received a mantra.  How things began to change for me!

There are two types of mantra, mundane and divine.  Mundane mantras are ordinary words you use on yourself.  Divine mantras are spiritual, putting you on the path to finding, knowing and being your Divine Self.  Divine mantras are given by a qualified teacher, one who is authorized by an enlightened Master, who was authorized by their Master, etc.  The lineage goes back to ancient times, with practices and teachings been passed down through the generations, even bringing the teachings to modern-day America.  They came all the way to me and can be passed down to you as well.

Cittam mantra.h – Shiva Sutras 2.1
Mind is mantra.

The translator, Jaidev Singh, describes how to use mantra, “…the performer of the mantra should identify himself with the deity invoked in the mantra, if it is to succeed.”

Swami Nirmalananda

Swami Nirmalananda explains, “Mind is made of words.  Whatever your mind is saying to you, that is what you are becoming.  You can choose mantras that tear you down or mantras that build you up.  You can repeat mantras for worldly happiness and success, or you can get an enlivened mantra from a Master, a Divine mantra that will give you your Self.  You choose.”

When you use your mind to repeat the Divine mantra, your mind itself becomes the mantra, vibrating with the mystical power of consciousness.  What an extraordinary mind!  What an amazing mind!  Your mind becomes aware of the Divine Truth that you are Shiva.

For your mantra to work most powerfully, you must say it with love and devotion.  Swamiji says, “Think of it this way:  your mind obsesses on things that are important to you.  When your mind returns to something again and again, you are devoted to it, even if it is painful.  Your repetition proves your devotion.  Now apply that ability to a Divine mantra, and see what it will give you.”

The mantra is the tool for you to become Self-Realized.  When you repeat your mantra, understand that you as the speaker, the mantra and your goal of realizing your own Divinity are all the same.  The mantra vibrates with the mystical reality of your own Divinity, so your mind begins to vibrate with that same energy, giving you the experience of your Self.

The mantra makes you understand your true nature, which is pure Consciousness.  You realize who you really are.  You begin to experience and understand that you are Shiva.  Mantra cannot work at full power if you see the mantra and you as being separate.

Several years ago, Swami Nirmalananda gave me an enlivened mantra.  Filled with Grace, it put me on the path of Self-Realization in this lifetime.  However, making progress is up to me.  I have to use it.  And it is more powerful when I remember that I am the mantra.

Even knowing about this, my mundane mind doesn’t want me to lose my sense of control.  But the amazing thing is that my Divine mantra becomes stronger each day.  The more I say mantra, the more my mind becomes the mantra.  We truly are one and the same.

You get to choose.  Are your mundane mantras working for you?  You need a Divine mantra to begin to know your inner Divinity, to put you on the path of enlightenment.  I know the path I want to take.  What about you?

Honoring the Divine Human, by Swami Nirmalananda

Today is the full moon dedicated to the Guru, per India’s ancient tradition.  Guru Purnima is the day that the flow of grace is fullest, most easily accessible and most powerful.  Grace is the power of revelation, giving you the highest, the knowing of your own Divinity.

The world honors astronauts, celebrities, athletes, billionaires, and winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, yet most people focus on taking care of their family, taking care of their body, and living a long, happy healthy life.  All of these are great things, if they are what you want to do.  Whatever you do, when you breathe the last breaths in this life, hopefully you have your nearest and dearest around you.  If I were one of them, I’d ask you, “Did you do what you came here to do?”  What will you say?

Yoga says, if you don’t attain the highest in this lifetime, you get another chance.  You can come back and do this as many times as it takes you.  The fact that you are now alive means that you didn’t make it last time, so you had to repeat the grade.  Will you make it all the way this time?  Say, “Yes.”  Please say, “Yes.”  The world needs more enlightened beings!  Of course, if you decide to undertake this Divine Mission, you have some work to do.  It’s inner work, for your Divinity is hidden within you.

Who and what will you be when you become Self Realized?  Is it going to change your life?  The short answer is yes and no.  The change is an inner change, making you free from fear, free from self-doubt, free from enmity, full of joy and love, overflowing with compassion and the impulse to give to others.  But you can still live in the same place, do the same things and share your life with the same people.  They probably won’t notice a change in you, as you would have been changing all along.  You’ve been getting lighter, happier, more clear-headed, more practical as well as more creative and insightful.  Yoga’s practices guarantee this.

Plus, you cannot really tell anyone that you’re enlightened.  It’s a Catch 22.  If you announce that you’re enlightened, you take on the persona of being enlightened, which makes you trapped in a persona, thus not enlightened.  So, it’s a Divine Secret.  Only those who are appointed to uplift others are openly recognized and acknowledged as Self-Realized Beings.

I lived and studied with such a Master for almost seven years.  There’s nothing else like it!  Whatever you think enlightenment looks like, actually seeing it in person is a different thing.  For me, it was like comparing Cinderella at the ball to the reality of getting married.  It’s earthy.  It’s real.  Gurus are not phonies.  Seeing the Divine in action, being human, is going to shatter your concepts.  They need shattering.

Think of it this way:  when you become Self-Realized, will you still eat?  You will still have a body, so you’ll eat, drink, sweat, excrete, speak, walk, talk, sleep and maybe even snore.  You’ll still have to take care of your body, for as long as you have one.  That’s the point!  To be free while in the midst of life, to be consciousness-incarnate, embodied consciousness.

To bring the best of yourself into every action, every relationship, every breath of your life — you always wanted to be this way.  To shine with the inner light that you know is there, this is your future.  To blossom into the fullness of your innermost essence is the reason you took birth.  To be and to share the Divine in the mundane, what a way to live!  Can you see the possibility for yourself?  Is this something you can grow into?

But you deny the very same possibility to others by denying that someone other than you could have made it.  You debunk the whole idea of a Guru, when that’s really the only person who can help you get enlightened.  You cannot learn to play the flute from someone who’s never played, nor from a book.  Even if the book was written by a flautist, you cannot learn to play from a book.

If you want success in the business world, you get a mentor.  You want one who has been successful in their career, not one who hides in the back office.  If you want to attain enlightenment, you need to look for an enlightened being.  My Guru told us, “The way you become enlightened in this lifetime is to spend enough time with an enlightened being.”  What is “enough time?”  Probably it’s more than you have already spent, unless you are already enlightened and were keeping it a secret.

Every religion was founded by such a person, a Divine Human.  They were so inspiring, uplifting and transforming that people were attracted to them.  When Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha, he could not stay in one place for long; so many people came that the area ran out of food within a few days.  Some kings closed their borders to the Buddha because his travel through their kingdom would bankrupt it.

Yoga focuses on living Divinity, embodied consciousness.  While the Roman Catholic church doesn’t recognize saints until they’ve been dead for decades or centuries, there were people who knew them.  Their testimony is what makes the church able to determine that “that person had been a saint when they were alive.”  But the people who knew them got to spend time with these Divine Beings.  What about you, wouldn’t you like to know one?

Today is the day we honor the Guru.  Yoga wouldn’t be so popular in the USA if Gurus hadn’t brought it to us from India.  Even if you think it’s merely an exercise or healing system, it came from Gurus.  It’s time to honor the source.

I owe everything to my Baba.  I live in ever-growing gratitude and perpetual service to Him and to all whom He sends to me.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah