Author Archives: Swami Shrutananda Saraswati

Do You Know?

By Swami Shrutananda

My tears began to flow.  I was on a long drive back to the Ashram.  I found several religious stations that played upbeat and positive music.  A Christmas song about Jesus was the one full of the most tenderness and devotion, “Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix.

The song makes Jesus personal:  “Mary, did you know… when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God?”  “Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?”  Mary, did you know “that sleeping child you’re holding is the great, I Am?”  Probably not.  

For me, the song describes the potential of a human being by describing the Jesus’ greatness.  Probably your mother did not know your greatness unless she herself was Self-Realized.  Yet, more importantly and more personally, do you know your own greatness, your own Divinity, your own Self?  Probably not.  Some students describe their knowingness of their own Beingness when they were young.  However, they shut it down as they grew.  

Does your mother need to know the greatness of your being for you to know?  Do others in your life?  If so, you will be waiting for a long time.  Yet this is what the Guru sees in you when they look at you or think about you.  Even if you cannot, the Guru sees your own greatness, your own Divinity, your own Self. 

When I hear devotional songs about other great beings, I think of my Guru, Gurudevi Nirmalananda.  I feel fortunate to have a living Guru.  I can tangibly see her form.  I can hear her teachings, made so relevant to me in this day and age.  I can talk to her on the outside or inside.  She is always accessible.  The yoga we practice comes from Siddha Yoga.  It is the yoga of being in relationship with a siddha, a Self-Realized being.  Gurudevi is such a being.

This song “Mary Did You Know?” touches me so deeply.  It touches my inner yearning to know my own greatness, my own Divinity, my own Self.  It brings up tears because the knowing is so close, yet just beyond my reach.  

Fortunately, I have a Guru, a living Guru, who reveals my own Divinity to me.  It is the function of the Guru to help you to reveal your own greatness to yourself.  This happens through the Guru’s presence, teachings and the practices they give you.  This is the gift of a living Guru.  

The Guru performs miracles.  The Guru’s miracles don’t include walking on water, curing blindness or bringing the dead alive.  The Guru’s miracle is much more personal to you.  She burns away that which gets in the way of you knowing your own Self.  You will feel fresh and new, and full of joy.

Gurudevi’s Guru said:

The power of the human being is so great that he can even transform himself into God.  God lives hidden in the heart of every human being, and everyone has the power to realize that.

-Swami Muktananda, Where Are You Going? page 5

You are embodied Divinity.  You already are God.  That is amazing.  But you simply don’t know, not yet.  Through your yoga practices, you come to know that you are God.  You are the Lord of all creation.  You are the great I Am.  The knowing is hidden within.  The Guru reveals that which is hidden in your own being.  It is the Guru’s function to reveal your own Self to you.

Traditionally, yoga does not honor a great Guru’s birthday.  We honor the anniversary of their death.  At the end of life, you see what that little baby did with their life.  Those we honor knew their own greatness, their own Divinity, their own Self.  And they helped others to find That within themselves.

Do you know?  Do you want to know?  Get a Guru.  I have one and I’ll share.

Limitless You

By Swami Shrutananda

The Truth is your inherent nature is limitless.  Limitlessness is inherent to your essence like the wet is the inherent nature of water.  Water would not be water if it were not wet.  In the same way, your own essential nature is limitless, unbound, and free.  While this is your human potential, your current condition is that you are bound.

Gurudevi Nirmalananda describes it this way in her commentary on Divine Sutras 1.2:

J~naana.m bandha.h

Consciousness takes on limitations, binding Herself with limited knowledge, limited happiness, limited ability, limited time.  This is called bondage and is caused by the not-knowingness of your own Divine.  The purpose of yoga is freedom, the freedom to know and to be your own Divine Self.

Consciousness is the One, the Source, the Ultimate Reality.  To become the universe and everything in it, including you and me, Consciousness takes on levels of contraction — limitation.  Due to this contraction, we feel like small, limited human beings.

I see these limitations play out when I’m teaching a Yoga Pain Clinic.  I love to help people with their aches and pains; they come to find out how yoga can help.  Yet they have a limited idea of the true healing capacity of their own body.

They also suffer from limited happiness, especially due to their pain.  They have a limited ability to conceive of what they can really do with their body and in their life.  They feel they have limited time, so how can they fit yoga into their already too-busy life?  Yet, if they don’t do the yoga, they will not heal.  It only works if you do it.  

Near the program’s end, I teach a few easy Svaroopa® yoga poses they can do at home.  I know the yoga poses will help many of the conditions that participants brought in.  Yet many think they cannot do what I’m teaching because of their condition.  It is like they have put a plaster cast on their body with their mind.  They think, “I can’t move this way.  I can’t move that way.”  During the Pain Clinic, the yoga poses work on their mind as well their body.  This frees them from the limitations they have imposed on themselves.

A few years ago, a new yogi told me he could not get on the floor.  He had had a double knee replacement.  I told him that yoga could still help him.  I was teaching the Svaroopa® Yoga Magic 4, to release spinal tension from tail-to-top.  The first two poses are in a chair, which he could do.  

The third pose, Anjaneyasana (Lunge), is done by kneeling on the floor.  He restated he could not get on the floor.  So I had him do a variation of the pose in his chair.  The final pose was Jathara Parivrttanasana (Rotated Stomach Pose), for which you must get on the floor.  I demonstrated it.  Then I looked over.  He was on the floor doing it!  

The shackles of his mind were beginning to loosen.  He was freed from the limitation of what he thought his body could not do.

This same student had already signed up for my four-hour yoga workshop later that afternoon.  He asked me, “Can I do it?”  I said, “Yes.”  As the afternoon progressed, I watched as this student got up and down off the floor many times.  Each time was quicker and easier.  

By the end of class, he wanted to try Anjaneyasana (Lunge) on the floor.  He tried, but the limited movement in his knees would not allow it.  Yet his mind was open to the possibility.  This was huge!  The shackles, the limitations, which he had put on his body, were dissolved.  By the end of class, his face glowed, his were eyes bigger and brighter, and his body was lighter.  He was radiant! 

Svaroopaâ poses and the breathing practice give you great benefits, both physical and more than physical.  You may have begun yoga to heal your body or decrease its pain.  You soon discover that there is a deeper essence.  You discover the “you” that is more than your body and more than your mind.  Yoga calls it svaroopa, your own Divine Self — limitless You.