Category Archives: Mystical Living

Surrendering to Your Greatness

By Swami Satrupananda

Do more.  Try harder.  I was given this advice as the key to success in life.  If you want to get a promotion at work, take on more responsibility.  If you want to improve your golf game, practice more.  If you are struggling with establishing a new lifestyle habit, try harder.  This is the notion that by doing more you’ll be more.  

However, yoga approaches it differently and says that surrender is essential.  

Surrender can be a scary word.  We associate surrender with waving the white flag, an admission of defeat.  Surrender can also be reluctantly accepting the current undesirable circumstances.  This is not what the yogis meant by surrender.  Throughout history, yogis have been people who were not satisfied with their personal status quo.  They wanted something different from life.  They applied themselves to a greater goal, even though it went against the cultural norms.  

So what is yogic surrender?

To understand yogic surrender, let’s compare the underlying principles between modern success and yogic attainment.  In the West, we are taught that by doing more you’ll be more.  

In contrast, yoga is based on the principle that you are already great, whole and complete.  You are not merely great, you are Greatness itself.  Any word you use to describe the whole of your being is limited. You are that Divine Essence which is beyond words.  The ancient yogis called it “That”.

elephantjournal.com

The problem is, your Greatness is hidden inside, just behind your mind.  Since you don’t know your own Greatness, you feel lost, small, unworthy and alone.  You look for a replacement.  You construct identities around the work you do, the relationships you are in and the places you live.  Your mind works hard at creating and maintaining these identities. 

This is where yogic surrender comes in.  You are already Greatness; you are That. To discover That, you surrender your constructed identities.  You give up the notion that you are merely what you do, who you know and where you live.  You embrace that you are That.  You see and be your own That-ness, and you see it in everyone and everything.  Baba Muktananda described it:

Surrender means to become one with That, to merge with That.

You let go of your idea of being small and step into your Greatness.  You surrender to your Greatness.  It’s a great promise but not necessarily easy.  Letting go of your constructed identities can be difficult.  They are so familiar.  And they are so painful.

A few years ago, I had a busy mind at the beginning of a meditation period.  My mind was comparing me to others, and I was ending up on the bottom.  I was feeling small.  My constructed identity of being someone valuable and worthy was being threatened.  My mind wanted to do more and try harder to patch up my shaky constructed identity.

But I couldn’t find a solution that made me feel like it would work.  I was scared.  If I gave up this constructed identity, who would I be?  I didn’t know.  Yet I did know the instructions that my Guru gave me for meditation.  I followed them and repeated mantra.  As I continued to repeat mantra, a shift happened inside.  I settled deeper into my That-ness.  Then I could see that I was holding onto the constructed identity.  The act of comparing myself was what was keeping me small.  So I surrendered the comparison.  I surrendered my smallness, and I got my Greatness.

We can learn about surrendering from a way to catch a monkey.  In India, they take a jar with a wide base and a narrow opening.  The opening would be just wide enough for monkey to slide its hand into the jar.  The jar was then tied with a rope to something solid.  A shiny coin or piece of food was placed in the jar.  A monkey would pass by the jar and become interested in the treat inside.  It slipped its hand into the jar and grabbed the lucky prize.  Now, however, the fist, grabbing the treat, was too big to go through the jar’s narrow opening.  The monkey was trapped.  The monkey had a simple way of getting free.  Just let go of the little treat.  

But the monkey holds on tight and starts screaming.  They gave up their freedom for a little treat.  

The same is true for us.  We are the ones holding onto our limited constructed identities.  And the price we pay is our freedom.  We give up our Greatness.

So how do you develop your ability to surrender? Swami Muktananda tells us:

Meditate more and surrender will come.

Swami Muktananda, From the Finite to the Infinite, page 322

Every time you meditate, you experience your own Greatness.  The more you experience and know your own Greatness, the easier it is to surrender to your Greatness.  Then you abide in your Greatness all the time.

So meditate more, not to be more, but to surrender to your Greatness.  It can be a tricky balance to play.  I recommend meeting and studying with one who has fully surrendered and lives from the knowing of their Greatness within.  They know the yogic path to surrender and want to share it with you.  Come meet Satguru Nirmalananda.  She will help you surrender to your Greatness.

Illness: A Blessing in Disguise

By Swami Prajñananda 

In December 2019, I flew to India to take my vows as a swami, a yoga monk.  Before I left, I was worried, “What if I get sick?”  I didn’t consciously think about it, but it was definitely brewing in my subconscious.  In the end, my worries manifested into reality.  I got a very sore and swollen throat.  It lasted throughout the vows ceremony and the duration of the trip.  Surprisingly, it was a blessing in disguise.  

Amazingly, I did not mind.  I was having such deep experiences.  And even more, I finally got it: I am not my body.  It was completely freeing.  I was able to settle deeper into my own essence which the pain of my body cannot touch. While I could still feel my throat was raw and swollen, I was abiding at a deeper level within. I was experiencing the bliss that is beyond the limitations of my body.  

Ever since, I have not been scared of getting sick.  I still do my best to take care of my body, but it is not based in fear.  

I got sick again a couple of months ago. I got Covid. I got it worse than I thought I would. I went through the gamut of symptoms: fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, congestion.  Eventually, I experienced difficulty breathing as well as fatigue.  This time, I wasn’t worried about being sick.  Even though my body was in bad shape, I didn’t feel “I am my body.” However, I did uncover a different sticky identity, “I am my capacity.” 

With Covid, I was laid up for what felt like way too long.  I couldn’t teach my classes or support the Ashram with my administrative work.  I couldn’t cook or clean.  My whole identity of someone who is competent and capable was threatened. I realized that I’ve held the belief that my self-worth comes from what I do.  

Since this underlying belief has come into my awareness, I’ve been able to look at it. Gurudevi’s recent teachings has supported me in doing so, especially this excerpt:  

Yoga says that you are the perceiver, not what you perceive. Whatever you are seeing or hearing, as well as what you are doing, you are the one who is experiencing it. You are the experiencer, not the experience. You are the doer, not the action or its results. Know who you are, even while you are perceiving and acting, and you are free. This is yoga’s promise.  – Gurudevi Nirmalananda, Perception & Action, September 2022 

Yes!  This makes so much sense to me.  I perceive my body, so I must not be my body.  I perceive my mind, so I must not be my mind.  And oh yes!  I perceive my capacity to act, so I must not be my capacity.  I am the perceiver, not what I perceive.  I am Shiva.  I am the One Divine Reality that is being my body, mind and capacity in order to participate in this world. My participation does not make me more or less of who I am.  I am the One who is being me and being all and beyond all.   

This knowing is completely freeing while at the same time profoundly grounding.  Without the knowing, you are lost in limitation.  But when you know, you can fully embody individuality without being limited by it at all.  The knowing is the key, the key to your own freedom.  Yoga gives you the key.  So if you are not yet free, you must do more yoga. 

He’s Still Here

By Satguru Swami Nirmalananda  

I had years with him.  I lived and studied with my Baba, both in America and India.  After I got past my initial awe of his incredible teachings, I relaxed into his energetic embrace.  I deepened into inner realms beyond my imagining.  Subtle unravelings freed me from psychological patterns laid down in my childhood, which I now recognize as karmas brought from lifetimes past.  

He left this earthly plane 40 years ago today.  It was overwhelming to lose him.  I didn’t know who I was without him as an external anchor.  Yet it was even more overwhelming to discover that his presence had become stronger.  The anchor was now inside.   

He had prepared us so well, explaining countless times that a great being doesn’t leave when they die.  Such a Master merges into Self, thus is found in the Self of all.  Their external form was only a masquerade anyway.  Living in the whole of Beingness, they are only seemingly limited to a single form.  I didn’t understand, of course, not until I experienced it.  And even then, I didn’t understand, not until I’d experienced the passing of other loved ones.  There’s a difference – a big difference. 

When Baba left, I was sitting by the sea, watching the most extraordinary sunset I’ve ever seen.  It had more colors and it lasted for hours.  All the while, inside, he was revealing truths I need to know.  I sat in a Divine communion with him that has never ended. 

But to call it Divine communion is misleading, for there must be two in order to commune.  Inside, there is only One, which yoga calls Shiva.  But for me, that One is Baba.  Shiva became Baba in order to give me my Self, who is Shiva.  Yes, it’s circular reasoning, even confusing.  Yes, it’s entrancing, entwining, enrapturing, enchanting – and Baba was all of that.  I live in that Divine mystery.  He unveiled it for me while he embodied it.  He set me free.  Thank you, Baba. 

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.

Decisions Based on Bliss

By Swami Satrupananda

Life is a series of choices.  Every decision you make determines your future trajectory in life.  When you are in a state of clarity, you calmly assess your current situation.  You consider your options.  Then you make a choice as you aim for a certain outcome.  Where are your choices taking you?  Do your decisions lead you towards an outcome you want?  

The effectiveness of your decision is based on:

  • Assessment — Your assessment of your current situation is accurate.
  • Options — You are considering all options.
  • Goal — You clearly understand your goal. 
  • Awareness — You are aware of your personal process, how you make decisions. 

When any one of these is compromised, your decisions may not be effective: 

Assessment — You might incorrectly assess your situation or only assess part of it.  For example, you are busy thinking of your response, so you mishear someone’s question.  Your answer is not effective.

Options — You might not be aware of all your options.  You restrict yourself to familiar patterns.  Perhaps you’ve been fortunate enough to have someone share a potentiality they see in you.  They help you discover that you can do and be more than you thought. 

Goal — You lose sight of your goal in your decision-making moment.  Or perhaps you do not have a goal or even have conflicting goals.  You want to lose weight and eat chocolate cake too. 

The most important factor is your awareness.  You first need to be aware that you are making a decision.  When you have arrived at your destination, do you remember if you stopped at the red light?  It’s too easy to have your life decisions be knee jerk reactions instead of conscious decisions. 

Psychologists have estimated that the average adult makes 35,000 decisions a day[1].  Approximately 227 of these decisions are about food[2].  Are you aware of all of these decisions?  Imagine making conscious decisions that would be aligning your actions, words and thoughts consciously towards your goals.  How would this change your life?

One decision-making psychologist recommended yoga to increase your awareness.  I was delighted!  Yes, yoga is all about awareness.  That’s why we start and end each yoga class with a guided awareness.  Practicing awareness is so important that it is done twice in every Svaroopa® yoga class.

Yet simply being aware of every decision is not enough.  That’s because your decisions might be based on an inaccurate assumption.  It’s human nature to operate on an assumption of lack.  You lack something, so you make a choice to fill the lack.  You assume that a decision will make you healthier, happier or somehow better.  

Yoga changes your assumption.  Instead of lacking anything, yoga says you are already full, whole and complete.  You are fullness itself, which yoga calls your Self.

How do you transition from an assumption of lack to an assumption of fullness?  Shaktipat.  Shaktipat is a sacred initiation given by a Satguru.  In the initiation, the Satguru reveals the fullness and wholeness that you are.  This revelation shatters the underlying assumption of lack.  

While you might not know your fullness all the time yet, after receiving Shaktipat, it is always available.  The fullness delightfully creeps into the nooks and crannies of your body, mind and heart.  The assumption of fullness takes over.

I had a tangible experience of this restructuring of assumptions.  In a meditation, I could feel the internal structures being rewired.  It was tangibly happening in my spine.  I could feel the energy connections, channels, supports and structures being moved and re-aligned.  

I knew that I had been changed on a deep level.  It’s like I had new equipment — my body, mind and heart were forever changed.  Even if I tried to do my familiar limiting patterns, my internal system wouldn’t take it.  I was being rewired to know my own svaroopa — the bliss of my own Beingness.

This restructuring takes some time.  You must participate in the process.  You choose to follow the practices given by the Satguru so that you can support your own restructuring.  And the goal is clearly described in the yogic texts for you.  Once you fully realize your fullness, your own Self, you live in bliss:

Lokaananda.h samaadhi-sukham.

This yogi experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others. — Shiva Sutras 1.18

This is a promise of your future.  You will experience the sweet bliss of your own Self all the time.  This bliss is not affected by location, not by the people nor the activities around you.  This is such a great promise.  It means you can achieve the highest in the midst of your life.  You can know the bliss of the Self right where you are.  It also promises that you will always be experiencing bliss.  Then your decisions run on the assumption of bliss:

  • Assessment — You see everyone and everything as your own blissful Self.  You can take in the whole situation.  You accurately assess the situation.
  • Options — You consider all options.  You see bliss in every outcome, so all options are up for consideration. 
  • Goal — You are experiencing the fullness and wholeness of your being.  You do not need anything.  Thus your goal is to share the bliss that fills you.  The bliss overflows and you share it with others.
  • Awareness — You are aware of the whole process.  You are awareness itself.

Now this is truly the way to live.  Give up your assumption of lack.  Instead, upgrade your assumption to bliss.  Get Shaktipat and do the practices they teach you.  Luckily, I happen to know one — Satguru Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati.  Come study with her and live a life fueled by bliss.


[1] How Many Decisions Do We Make Each Day? | Psychology Today

[2] We Make Lots Of Choices Every Day, But Exactly How Many? | PBS North Carolina (pbsnc.org)

You Are Your Own Guru

By Swami Samvidaananda 

“You are your own Guru,” wrote a renowned Guru, Swami Muktananda.  As a brand-new yogi, I didn’t know what a Guru was.  Let alone that I was supposed to be my own Guru.  That’s how I took this teaching when I first heard it.   

Fellow yogis seemed to confirm my understanding.  At classes and conferences, I met wonderful, independent, confident yogis.  They had focus, dedication and a daily home practice.  They were doing it for themselves.  I admired them.  I wanted to dedicate myself to yoga, too.   

So I found a teacher, one that I admired and respected.  And she taught me that “guru” is Sanskrit for teacher.  A Guru with a big “G” is a spiritual teacher.  A guru with a small “g” is any kind of teacher.   

How many gurus have you had in your life?  So many.  Your first guru is your mother or whoever raised you.  They taught you to eat, to walk, talk, play peek-a-boo and blow out birthday candles.  You had gurus who taught you to read and write, to play soccer or trombone.  

My dad learned how to be an electrician from his dad.  So my grandpa was my dad’s electrician guru.  Anything you’ve learned to do, a guru has shown you how — even if you go to YouTube or you read a blog or a book.  These are all created by people who are sharing what they know, so you can know.

The yoga teacher I found all those years ago is a Guru.  Her name is Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati.  She has dedicated her life to sharing with you what she knows: the mystical truth of your spiritual essence.  She teaches that there is One Divine Reality that is the source and substance of all that exists.  That One is called your Self.  

Gurudevi not only teaches you about your Self; she awakens you to the knowing of your Self.  And then you foster and further your own knowing every time you meditate.  That’s why this meditation is called Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation.  Vidya means experiential knowing, and svaroopa means your own Divine Self.  

Awakened to your hidden Divinity, you see the glorious Divinity of everyone and everything that exists.  This is a Divine world created of Divinity, expressing Divinity, rejoicing in Divinity.  That Divinity is you.  You are Divine.  You always have been.  You just didn’t know it, at least not all the time.  

When your Guru reveals it to you, then you know.  And then, you know that  “you are your own Guru.”  Because you are the One, and She is the One. There’s only One. 

Yoga is not DIY.  You do not have to figure it out on your own.  You need one who knows, one who can give that knowing to you.  Swami Nirmalananda will tell you she only has something to give because she got it from her Guru, Swami Muktananda.  And he would credit everything he had to give to his Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda. 

And he had a Guru, who had a Guru, in a lineage of Gurus that stretches through time.  Do you want a Guru?  Swami Nirmalananda will be yours, if you want her to be.  You’re the one who decides. 

Freedom!  Independence Day!  Liberation!

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

I confess that I get it all mixed up.  The Fourth of July means so much to me because I associate it with yoga’s promise of freedom.  The original date was all about political freedom, I understand.  But the word “freedom” makes me think of yogic freedom, which is so much more.

Yogic freedom ends the inner burdens that weigh you down:  your thoughts, memories, desires and fears.  Dissolving these delusions makes you able to breath freely, laugh and love all.  You give from the depth of your being and revel in the bliss that is ever arising within. 

When the fireworks go off in the sky, I associate them with the inner fireworks that deep meditation can provide.  The light inside is so much brighter than anything that shines outside!  You’re living in the dark when you’re always looking outward for happiness.  Look inward and discover who you really are.  Your essence is Divine and always has been.  Now, finally, it is the time to know.  You have waited lifetimes for this opportunity.

I realize that I am extraordinarily fortunate. The events of 1776 laid the foundation for a society that gives me access to education and travel, as well as opportunities and lifestyle choices few people in the world enjoy. Having taken full advantage of these freedoms, I am grateful for them all.  Yet I found them unfulfilling.

No matter how many classes I took or books I read, I was still intellectually unsatisfied. No matter how many destinations to which I traveled, I never felt that I belonged, not there and not even at home.  The many opportunities turned into many successful endeavors, but I was still unsatisfied.  I wanted more.

My yearning, along with the angst of my post-war generation, called my Baba to America.  He was one of many spiritual greats who brought the yogic tradition to us.  I didn’t know enough to go looking for him, so he came and found me.  Beyond merely fortunate, I am saturated with Divine Grace.  Grace fills my life and my being.  I’m so full that it overflows, which makes me want to share it with you.

That’s why I teach.  That’s why I write.  That’s why I get up in the morning, the purpose of my life, a Divine Purpose to which I am able to dedicate myself.  I am so fortunate.  Freedom is the gift I received from my Guru, which is why I love July 4. It’s all about being free on the inside.

Freedom is your destiny.  All you have to do is want it.  Then act on that holy desire.  Do more yoga.

Your Divine Task

By Swami Prajñananda

Gods and Goddesses, heroes and heroines — the great Greek epics with tales of heroic deeds enchanted me as a child.  The seeming impossible made possible kept me rapt. 

I especially loved Hercules.  He performed deeds that no one else could, due to both his strength and strategizing.  As I grew up, I would apply myself in the same way, taking on challenges that were bigger than me.  Whether it was athletic or academic success, I would not stop until I achieved what I set out to do.  Yet, once completed, I was ready to move on to the next thing.  

I just wasn’t satisfied.  No matter what I achieved, I was still left with a feeling that there was something missing.  And it was true!  I was missing me.  When I met my Guru, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, she gave me a new direction to turn:  inward.  

My striving to be something has transformed into discovering that which I already am — perfect, whole and complete.  I learned that nothing I achieved on the outside would make me more whole on the inside.  Wow!  After years of striving to improve myself and my life, this revelation was groundbreaking.  Yet to live in that knowing all the time is the true Herculean task. Gurudevi describes: 

Your task is to first find the Divine in your own Self, then to see God shining through, as all that exists.

 Yoga & Worldly Life by Gurudevi Nirmalananda

You know how to get tasks done.  You have so many in your life, some more challenging than others.  Yet all the tasks have taught you something.  I often think that the challenges and goals I have taken on so far were all in preparation for this ultimate task, finding my own Self.  It is the same for you.  The skills needed to get a job or a degree are transferable to your spiritual upliftment.  Finding the Divine in your own Self requires persistence, dedication, problem solving and more. 

Yet you need a guide, someone to show you how and where to pour your efforts.  This is the job of the Guru.  Gurudevi not only shows you the way; she explains the path and gives you the experience she names.  She gives you the yoga practices that were given to her by her own Guru.  They have been passed down through the generations of yogis, dating back through time.  We receive these same tools because they work.  When you do the practices, you get the results.

First, you discover your own divine Self.  This is the deeper dimension of your own being — that which is perfect, whole and complete.  You taste it in your very first Svaroopa® yoga class or meditation.  Yet it is easy to forget who you are when you leave your yoga space.  Your task is to find your Self again and again and again, until again becomes always.  You root so deeply into your own Divinity that you can never be uprooted again. 

Once you are settled in your own Self, you see the world differently.  Most people look at the world as separate and even scary.  Yet, when you know your own Self, you are given divine vision.  Instead of a scary world, you see a divine world.  You see God shining through, as all that exists.  With your divine eye, nothing is bad, nothing is to be rejected or feared.  It is all to be respected and cherished.

This is the path laid out for you by the Great Masters in this yogic tradition.  First you find your Self; then you see the Divine in everyone and everything.  What a divine task!  Are you ready to take it on? 

Free from Limitations

By Swami Satrupananda

“I am imperfect,” your mind tells you this again and again.  Does it, unfortunately, sound familiar?  Yoga calls this ignorance.  The good news is that yoga also provides a cure: Shaktipat, the sacred initiation from a Satguru.

Yoga is the science of maximizing the human experience.  Part of this science is defining what keeps us limited.  The belief that “I am imperfect” has a Sanskrit name: aanava mala.  And it is just that, a belief, not a truth.  That’s why aanava mala is often translated as ignorance.  We don’t know who we really are.  

You are perfect, whole, full and complete.  Whenever you feel otherwise, you don’t know the Truth of your Divine Nature.  But this is not an ignorance that can be solved with more education.  Therefore, my teacher, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, translates aanava mala as Divine Amnesia.  You have forgotten your own Divinity.

Instead, your mind says that you are small and insignificant.  It’s right there in the Sanskrit words.  Aanava means fine, minute and exceeding smallness.  Mala means dirt, dust, filth and impurity.  Your Divine Nature is veiled by a layer of thinking that you are finite, minute and small.  That means when you feel this way, you are so close to your own Divinity.  There is just a thin layer covering your true nature.  While it is just a thin layer, it’s a scary one.  It’s painful and overwhelming to feel this exceeding smallness.  

pngtree.com

And there are two more veils (malas) that cover your inherent Divinity.  The next mala is maayiiya mala. Maayiiya means “proceeding from maaya.”  Maaya is the delusion of seeing the world as being different from you.  It keeps you from perceiving that everyone and everything is the same one Divine Reality covered by the malas.  Because of maayiiya mala, you see it all as separate.  

The third veil is karma mala.  Karma means action.  This veil propels you into action.  There is nothing wrong with action.  However, karma mala propels you into thinking that you are your accomplishments.  You believe you are what you do.

The truth of your existence is that you are the one Divine Reality, full, complete, perfect and whole.  Your Divinity is covered by these three veils: feeling finite; feeling different/separate from everyone and everything; and feeling your worth is based on what you do.  While you are the one Divine Reality, yet entangled in veils, you feel yourself to be so much less.  This is the human condition.

The cure is Shaktipat.  Shaktipat is an initiation given by a Satguru.  She ignites your own inner power of upliftment and pierces aanava mala.  The veil is torn.  You can thus see and feel your own Divine Nature.  The torn veil of aanava mala will never fully conceal your Divinity again.  The tear is permanent.

That was my experience.  In the moment I received Shaktipat, I had a profound experience of knowing and being my own Divine Nature.  Then I went back to my life and to my mind, which clearly needed some reprogramming.  I couldn’t live in the Beingness and Knowingness of my own Divinity all the time.  Yet I always knew that I was more.  It wasn’t a mere remembering of my experience; it was an inner knowing that I was more.  

It was so painful.  I knew that I was more, but I wasn’t experiencing the more.  I remember sitting in my apartment a few months after receiving Shaktipat and wishing that I could go back to not-knowing.  And in that moment, I realized that I could never not know.  I might not experience my Divine Nature all the time, but I would never not know that I was more than what my mind told me.

That’s the incredible gift of Shaktipat.  It tears aanava mala and gives you access to your own Divine Nature forever.  Once aanava mala is pierced and you know your own Divinity, then maayiiya mala can longer bind you.  You know that everyone and everything else is also made from the same Divine Reality.  It’s a huge masquerade party, everyone and everything seemingly separate from you – how fun!  

When you know your own Divinity, you continue to act in the world, but it does not define your worth.  Karma mala no longer limits you.  While you know that you are Divine, you take actions in the world simply because you care.  All of this, and so much more, comes from Shaktipat.

Once Shaktipat tears aanava mala, it is just a matter of time until the veil dissolves completely.  Then you live in the Knowingness of your own Divinity all the time.  It’s the promise that is described in Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s name.  Nirmala means without malas.  Gurudevi is free from the limitations of the three malas.  She always knows her own Divinity and sees it in everyone and everything.

You too can live in that freedom once you’ve received Shaktipat.  It’s just a matter of time.  And you control the timing.  If you do the practices that Gurudevi Nirmalananda did, and tells us to do, then you’ll get there.  If you do more of the practices, you’ll get there sooner.  It’s that simple.  And it’s guaranteed.  

You have the ultimate cure to the feeling of “I am imperfect” right here in America.  Come get Shaktipat and do the practices so you will know that you are perfect, whole, full and complete.

God Makers

By Swami Shrutananda

There are pastry makers, ones who are skilled in making bread.  There are peace makers, ones who bring about peace.  Also, there are God makers, ones who reveal your own God-ness, your own Divinity, to you. 

You, an ordinary human being, can be transmuted into God.  This is described as changing ordinary metal into gold.  In the Middle Ages, the so-called “philosopher’s stone” was the most sought-after substance in the world of alchemy.  Through it, alchemists could reach the legendary goal of turning ordinary metals, particularly lead, into gold.

drawing from alchemy text en.wikipedia.org

However, alchemy was a spiritual path, a Kundalini path, which predated medieval times.  It originated in India during the pre-Vedic times more than 20,000 years ago.  The teachings were written in a code language.  The veiled meaning was transforming the human being into the Divine, God.  The metal that was to be transformed was the human being — your body, mind and heart.

During a Weekend Workshop, I gave a talk on “You are Divine.”  As I was giving the teachings, a student kept interrupting and asking questions.  She was being a little aggressive, and other students were becoming uncomfortable.  Plus, they could not hear the teachings I was trying to give them. 

More and more frustrated, the vocal student finally blurted out, “Are you trying to tell me that I am Divine?!”  I said, “Yes!”  Then she sat quietly and listened through the rest of the talk.  Something shifted inside her.  What you believe will determine who you will become. 

You have all experienced your God-ness.  This is certainly true if you’ve received Shaktipat.  Yet it is also true if you have not.  Watching a sunset, upon first seeing a loved one, or listening to your favorite piece of music — any of these open your experience of God:

Unfortunately, most people have only a momentary experience.  Mysticism is about the difference between experiencing God momentarily compared to always knowing that you are God.  And yoga is pure mysticism. 

— Gurudevi Nirmalananda [1]

In yoga, through the Grace of the Guru, you come to live in this knowing you are God.  Who is the Guru? 

The texts are clear: the Guru is God.  So are you, but you don’t know it all the time, not yet anyway. How do you understand someone who lives in the knowing, who settles deep within — into being the Self and never loses it?  What would you want to call that person?  Even from ancient times, they have been called the “God-men of India,” tracing back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians as well as those from India.

— Swami Nirmalananda [2]

The Guru lives in the knowing of their own God-ness.  The  Guru’s job is to make you into Himself — into that which the Guru has already become.  That is God.  This process unfolds from the inside out.

In Kashmiri Shaivism, the pivotal point is whether or not the Guru can give Shaktipat.  A Shaktipat Guru is a God maker.  God makers are very rare.  Swami Nirmalananda is such a Guru.  When you receive Shaktipat, your Kundalini is awakened.  Kundalini is the energy of revelation, ready to flow up your spine from tail to top. 

This profound movement clears away all that gets in the way of knowing you are God.  Your thoughts, the way you use your mind, your memories and feelings, along with your physical body are transmuted.  Through Kundalini, you are uplifted and purified.  Through this transformation you come to know you are God, you are the Self.

Our meditation system comes from a lineage of God makers.  They support you in your meditations, so you experience the depths of your own being, your own Self.  I had a very tangible experience of this in meditation.  As usual, I began meditation by repeating the mantra given to me by my Guru.  I was carried deep within by the mantra. 

Nityananda of Ganeshpuri

Then I saw a God maker.  It was Nityananda, another Guru from this lineage.  He was walking on a dirt path away from me, walking through the mist. 

I kept repeating mantra and got on the dirt path to follow him.  I wanted to go where he was going.  I knew where he was leading me, to my own God-ness, my own Divinity, my own Self. 

As I followed him, I was propelled even deeper within.  I was immersed so deep within that I couldn’t remain conscious at that level of my being.  When I surfaced from that deep plunge within, and I opened my eyes I felt more like my Self.  I was sitting in timeless space, settled and expanded at the same time. 

Once you have received Shaktipat, your most important practice is meditation.  Meditate every day.  Every meditation is alchemy — transmuting, transforming you. 

When do you become God?  You are in charge.  Do more yoga.


[1] Enlightenment in the Midst of Life, Lesson #1: Stepping Into Life (Downingtown PA, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, Year-Long Programme 2018)

[2] Guru & Self, Lesson #5:  Guru is God (Downingtown PA, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, Year-Long Programme 2014)