Monthly Archives: August 2017

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. 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.