Category Archives: Mystical Living

From “Not Enough” to Abundance

By Swami Satrupananda

“I want this.  I need that.  I don’t want this.  I don’t want that.”  

Want, want, want.  Need, need, need.  Your mind churns over your desires.  Again and again, it reviews what or where or how you are lacking. It’s exhausting both mentally and physically.  And worst of all, you too often live your life based on an assumption of “not enough.”

What if you lived your life based on the assumption of enough or — better yet —abundance? The reality is that you are likely amongst the more fortunate in this world.  You have Internet, you are literate and you have your basic needs met.  This gives you the opportunity to focus on your spirituality.  What if you saw the abundance in your life and wanted what you have? 

There are many well-known gratitude practices to cultivate a different mindset.  You can have a gratitude journal or jar.  Our Ashram Staff meetings end with a gratitude moment.  Each person shares what they are grateful for.  These psychological practices can be powerful for changing your mind’s perspective.  

Yet yoga approaches it differently.  While psychology changes the content of your mind, yoga targets the source of the problem. Yoga looks at why your mind is thinking those thoughts.  You want things because you feel incomplete, empty, not enough and/or alone.  Yoga cures this feeling.  

How?  By revealing to you the fullness and completeness of who you truly are.  When you feel like you are lacking something, you are not experiencing your true Essence.  When you are being your true Essence, you know and experience that you are full and complete. 

Yoga practices are designed to reveal to you the fullness that you are.  Over time, the yogic process that you go through fills you up from the inside.  You know this from your yoga practices already.  You do poses or breathing practices and then feel calmer, more satisfied and at ease. 

This is because you are experiencing your fullness on the inside.  You learn to live in that fullness all the time.  Then you see this same Essence being everyone and everything around you.  Living in the fullness of your Essence, you don’t need anything on the outside.  You don’t want or need anything to make you feel full.

D.r.s.tha-anu”sravaka-vishaya-vit.r.s.nasya vashiikaara-sa.mj~nyaa vairaagyam

— Yoga Sutras 1.15

Your mind becomes free from all desires, for externals and for things promised in the scriptures, giving a state of complete freedom and ease.

When you don’t want things, you gain great freedom.  Your mind no longer churns over your desires.  This frees up a tremendous amount of mental energy.  With your thoughts changed, your words and actions also change.  Instead of being a slave to your desires, you are free.

This freedom also includes the freedom to give more, love more and do more.  With actions, thoughts and words motivated by getting something, you are limited by what you can do.  You are limited by your focus on what you can get.  When you are full, you are looking at what to give.  Your capacity grows.  You have great freedom.  It’s the best way to live.

My favorite way to experience the truth of these teachings is by repeating mantra.  So many times, I’ve turned to mantra when I have been caught up in my desires.  I repeat mantra. Sometimes, it’s for just a few minutes. Sometimes it takes longer.  And, without fail, the mantra fills me up from the inside.  The mantra reveals my Self to me.  

The fullness of my Self leaves no room for desire.  Then the same external circumstances look completely different to me. Being full on the inside, my heart overflows.  I am looking at what I can give.  I care and I want to help. When you fill up from the inside, then you love more as well as care more.  You are fully and effectively engaged in the world.  

In the sutra above, the Sanskrit word vairaagyam is often translated as non-attachment or dispassion. This can lead to a misconception that you must distance yourself from the world.  But it’s the opposite really.  Filled up with knowing your own Self, you are freed from neediness and desires.  An abundance of love and caring fills you.  You stay engaged in the world so you can give from this abundance.

The Moon in a Bucket 

By Swami Samvidaananda

Your own Self is the One Divine Reality, the source and substance of everything that exists. 

When you know your own Self, you feel blissful, whole, and complete. But you probably don’t experience the bliss of your Self as often as you would like to. My Guru, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, explains how you can:

Your own Self is always there, always right here, inside. All you have to do is look deeper. The mantra gives you this ability.

With Svaroopa® Vidya meditation, you repeat mantra, and it takes you deeper.  It takes you beyond your mind, to the glorious depths of your Self.   Beyond your mind? 

I didn’t understand how this was possible when I first began to meditate.  I’d had tantalizing experiences of my Self, from the start.  They were blissful glimpses. But it didn’t make sense to me that I was going beyond my mind.  After all, your mind is how you know and understand things, both in the world, and in your own body, mind and heart. And you use your mind to repeat the mantra in meditation. 

This is all true. Your mind is important. It is valuable.  But it is puny compared to your own Self.  Your Self is so much greater than your mind, that your mind can’t hold the whole of your Self.  A classic example is a bucket of water under a full moon.  

Imagine a clear night sky. The moon is big and full, a luminous ball glowing in the dark.  You fill a bucket with water and set it on the ground outside. When you peek in the bucket, you’ll see the reflection of the moon. The whole circle of the moon is glowing on the surface of the water.  

But is the bucket holding the whole moon? Could you take your bucket full of moon, spirit it away, and the moon will be gone from the sky?  No, the bucket is too small to hold the whole moon. It can only reflect it.  

Your mind is like the bucket of water.  It can only reflect your Self. The reflection is valid and real, but it’s not the whole.  The whole of your Self is much more. 

You are not just someone with a bucket full of moon. You are the bucket, the ground beneath you, and the moon and sky above you.  You are the whole of the earth. You are the whole of the universe, while being you. You are the One Reality that created this whole universe, is being this universe, and is beyond this universe. That is your Self.  

Because you are the Self, you have the capacity to know you are the Self. That knowing is deeper than your mind.  But you need help to get to that knowing because it has been hidden from you.  That’s why you don’t experience the bliss of your Self all the time.  It’s a cosmic set-up.  

So you need help from someone who knows.  Someone who can point the way.  Someone who has the key to unlock your deeper knowing. Someone like Gurudevi.  She is a yoga master, in a lineage of yoga masters called Gurus. She has dedicated her life to your upliftment.  

You can trust her when she says, “Your own Self is always there, always right here, inside. All you have to do is look deeper.” Except, you don’t have to trust her. That’s because she gives you what you need so you can know for yourself, as she explains, “The mantra gives you this ability.” 

The mantra is the key that unlocks your not-knowing.  She gives it freely to everyone who asks for it.  It is the mantra of Gurudevi’s lineage.  The Gurus have enlivened the mantra with the energy of revelation.

This is the cosmic power that reveals your Self to you.  Repeating this enlivened mantra propels you beyond your mind. You dive into the depths and infinite expansiveness of your Self.  

In the beginning, I didn’t understand how this could be true.  But now I know that it is. You can know, too. You are already whole.  More than whole, you are holy. Here, now.  

And you find your wholeness, you find your holiness, by meditating with the lineage mantra.  If you want the mantra, ask Gurudevi. She will give it to you.

Bittersweet Chocolate

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Bittersweet chocolate is the best.  The sage Narada agrees, describing the yearning for God as the most painful and most blissful of the 11 types of Divine Love.  

Today, I honor my Guru on the anniversary of his departure from this earthly plane.  It is a day of great grief and a day of great gratitude – both of which are based in Divine love.

Grief is when you feel you’ve lost something important to you.  Yet the fact that it was important means you are grateful for what it gave.  Thus, grief is the flip side of gratitude.

Wonderfully, this gives you a pathway out of grief — simply express your gratitude.  When you put words to all you’ve received from that source, you are filled up inside and there’s no room left for grief.

I was in Spain when Baba left.  At the pivotal time in India, it was sunset where I was, on private retreat in a small town overlooking the Mediterranean.  That sunset lasted longer than any I’ve ever seen, with colors ranging from golden orange into deep purple.  

As I sat and watched it, Baba spoke to me inside.  For a long time.  Mostly it was wordless communion, but sometimes a few words would come – deeply loving while giving me direction for my life.

He was my sunset.  He was my sunrise.  He was the sun that lit up my whole world, even my inner universe.  Or I thought he was.  As long as he was in his body, I could see only Baba.  He took up the radar screen of my mind in an ecstatic and glorious way.  It was a whole lot better than anything else I’d had on my radar.

It was only after he was gone (seemingly gone) that I could look past my mind and discover what he had given me.  He gave me my own Self, the vast profundity and inner reality of Beingness being me.  But frankly, I’d rather look at him than look at me.

That’s bhakti yoga, the science of Divine Love.  Tukaram, a poet saint of India said it this way, “Please, please, dear God.  Keep me just a little separate from you, so there’s still a ‘me’ to love you.”  Yes, I love to love Baba.  Which is why I indulge myself in sweet moments of Divine Grief – so I can feel the love, the longing, the yearning, while I know I am the One who was He.

There is only One Reality, the ultimate, ever-existent, present-right-here-and now Beingness.  Called by many names, our tradition honors the One by the name Shiva, meaning the Auspicious One who plants his auspiciousness in all.

But it’s not like planting a seed in earth, with the seed being different from the earth.  Instead, Shiva plants himself in you by being you.  Shiva is being you while being me, while being all and beyond all.  Oh, Shiva!

So when I look for Baba, I find him inside. I love to look at his photos, but it is always he who is looking through my eyes.  I masquerade as a bhakta, lost in love of the Divine, while being the One who is being both the lover and the beloved.  There’s no better way to live, always lost in Divine Love, yet knowing that it is me loving me – even when I am loving you.

bittersweet chocolate bits

Jai Muktananda!  Hail to Muktananda!  As he said about himself, I also proclaim to the world – I don’t care what anyone says about my Baba.  He gave me everything.  

And he sends me to share it with you. Does anyone want some bittersweet chocolate?  We can laugh and cry together.  It’s a glorious way to live!

Start with Your Toes

By Swami Prajñananda 

My birthday is this week.  A day to celebrate life.  I’ve been contemplating this, starting with my body.  It has changed quite a bit since I was born.  It has grown as I have grown.  It has learned as I have learned.  

My body has served me very well, but I haven’t always served it well.  Yet I need my body to live my life.  My quality of life is directly affected by the care I give it.  Just like a car, the better you care for it, the longer it will last and the better condition it will be in. 

I have to admit, pre-yoga I was not very good at caring for my body.  I pushed it to the max and beyond, many times.  Even after finding yoga, I’ve been known to do this. Yet Svaroopa® yoga and meditation excel at self-care. 

It starts with getting you in your body.  For most of us, we live our life in our mind, which is always on the go.  It can take you to the moon and back in a second.  It can mire you in your most terrible memories and send you chasing after possible future scenarios.  Every thought creates a castle in the sky, dragging you away from the present moment. 

This is why every Svaroopa® yoga class begins with a Guided Awareness.  You start with your toes, all ten toes…all at the same time.  You get present in your own body from toe to top.  This is so important, for your body needs your presence to be a living body. 

Next you do Ujjayi Pranayama, the breathing practice that re-enlivens you.  It pumps your prana, your vital life force.  It’s very much like taking your car to the gas station.  Without fuel, your car won’t go far.  It is the same with your body.  It needs to be fueled up with prana to work at full capacity. 

After Shavasana and Ujjayi, you do some yoga poses which release your muscular tensions. Your aches and pains melt away, and you move more easily and fluidly.  Your body is transformed.  This makes a difference in your day-to-day life.  Yet the truest purpose is to make you fit to explore the deeper dimensions of your being.

There is a big misconception about spirituality, that you must transcend your body.  It is actually quite the opposite.  For it is in your own body that you have the ability to explore your own greatness.  Gurudevi says it this way in her new book, Yoga: Embodied Spirituality

You must dive into your own body, your own mind, your own being and discover who you are
and what you are made of.  Yours is such a precious body.  What an extraordinary place, a
physical location, to enter into and to explore.  What a great gift the body is!

Truely, your body is a great gift.  You were born with a body and mind to explore the outer world as well as the inner world.  We have gotten very good at focusing externally.  Now it is time to use your body and mind differently, to explore inside. 

Your body is a pathway inward. For when you are present in your body, you are in the here and now.  In this place, in this space, in your own skin.  When you look inward, deeper than your mind, you discover that you are Presence-Itself.  Presence is not so limited to your idea of outside and inside.  For Presence is all-expansive, all-encompassing, Existence-Itself. Yet when you are finding your own Presence, you don’t start with the macro.  You start with the micro.  

While a birthday is a day that we label as special, really every day is a celebration of you.  You were born into a body for the precious opportunity to discover who you truly are.  It is with your own body that you can do these spiritual practices.  It is with your body that you can explore the inner dimensions of your own being.  There is so much to discover inside.  If you’re not sure where to begin, start with your toes! 

Yoga: The Fountain of Youth

By Swami Shrutananda

You always look better at the end of a meditation program or yoga class.  That’s because, when you arrive, often you don’t look so good. Perhaps your skin is ashen and dry.  Or your face, your neck and shoulders are crooked – even your gait.  You may look anxious and worried, the outside showing what you feel like inside.

All this makes the light in your eyes dull and your face wrinkled.  Instead of skipping though life, you may be limping along.

I watch people come in for yoga classes and meditation programs. They limp in. They skip out. It’s completely reliable. 

— Gurudevi Nirmalananda, Changing Your Future, Teachings Article, April 2023

In the 16th century, explorers looked for the Fountain of Youth to feel young and more alive again.  Yoga is the Fountain of Youth.  I love watching you during your yoga class or meditation program.  When it ends you look younger.   Your spine has lift.  Your face softens as your wrinkles melt away.  You have color in your face.  More light shines through your eyes.  You look radiant and you feel full of life.

I went through this too.  Before yoga, I was getting physical therapy for a neck & shoulder injury.  Unfortunately, it was not taking care of my pain. Then I started yoga.  My spine lifted and lengthened.  My pain lessened as my shoulders, neck and head moved back in line with my spine.  As I did more yoga, I felt better and better. 

Then Gurudevi taught me to meditate. I felt even better.  The pain in my neck completely went away.  My body was more fluid, and my mind was sharper and clearer.  I had more energy. I felt younger and more alive.   

How does this work?  Yoga and meditation ignite your own healing power.  Through these practices, the energy that was trapped by your spinal tensions begins to flow.  This energy is yoga’s fountain of youth.  When this energy is flowing through your spine, you get younger.  Simply look in the mirror.  This energy enlivens your body, your mind, your heart, and your life. 

Where does this energy come from?  Your own Self.  From your yoga practice you deepen more and more into the source of youth – your own Self, your own Divine Essence.  This is the mystery and the majesty of yoga.  As you deepen within, your own mystical energy flows stronger and stronger through your spine.  Along with being enlivened and youthened, you have access to deeper, richer and more profound experiences of your own Beingness.

You feel younger when you are more your Self. This is because your own essence that is arising is ever young.  It is the eternal.  Yet your body does have a limited life span.  Tick, tick, tick.  It means that the time is now!  Do more yoga and to deepen into your own Self while your body and mind can respond.

In a Teacher Training program, a middle-aged student was frustrated with another student who often distracted the group with her antics.  At one point the frustrated student said, “You are younger.  I am older.  I have less time left to deepen into these teachings.”  The younger yogi got it.  

Unfortunately, the frustrated teacher had less time than she thought.  A few years later she was diagnosed with cancer and died.  How much time do you have left?  Nobody knows.  How do you want to spend your time?

The poet Bhartrihari warns:

I thought I was enjoying sense pleasures;

I did not realize they were enjoying me.

I thought I was spending time;

I did not realize it was spending me.

   — Bhartrihari Vairaagya Shataka, verse 7

The reality is you always find time for what you really want to do.  If you want to feel better, you can make time for it.  It means that you miss out on another opportunity.  You can’t do everything.  Are you choosing to get old – or young?  Are you choosing to be peace-filled – or anxiety filled?  What you choose determines what you will get.  It is a personal choice.  To be young and vitally alive, as well as to deepen into the eternality of your own Beingness, do more yoga.

Enlightenment Defined

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

Enlightenment is not what you think.  Firstly, enlightenment is not what you think it is.  Secondly, and more importantly, enlightenment is not about your mind, so it’s not about what you are thinking.  Yet your mind can keep you from being enlightened.

In other words, you must use your mind to get enlightened, but you use your mind in a way that gets you beyond your mind.  Enlightenment is a state of being, not a state of mind.  It is a deep inner feeling, but not an emotion. Best of all, it’s effortless.  

Being unenlightened is hard!  You have to constantly review your anxieties and limitations.  Your sense of self worth is dependent on how others see you, which means you’re always performing, trying to win their good opinions.  Worse, your opinion of yourself needs help.

Enlightenment is a state of profound ease and joy.  It needs no external support or feedback as it arises from within.  The ever-arising flow of Divine Consciousness washes away all anxieties and limitations.  This is called freedom, freedom from who you thought you were so you can be who you really are – Consciousness Incarnate. 

How do you get enlightened?  You get it from one who has it. It’s just like if you are shopping for shoes.  Don’t go to the florist.  You’ve probably been trying to get enlightened by learning from unenlightened people.  No wonder it’s hard!

It’s time to go shopping for enlightened beings.  Find a few, meet them in person if you can. Try out the practices they give and see what you get.  Just like shoe shopping – slip them on and walk around in them for a bit. 

But the difference with enlightened beings is that you want one that both uplifts you and challenges you, so you can’t stay in your old ruts.  It’s dark in there.

Divine Seeing the Divine

By Swami Satrupananda

I delight in stopping at our local gas station and convenience store.  While the location is convenient, it’s the people that make the difference.  One of the cashiers recognizes me.  She calls me “Dear.”  We chit-chat and exchange smiles.  Simple, yet caring and meaningful. 

In contrast, I tried to have a conversation with ChatGPT, the newest artificial intelligence (AI) buzz. “Dear ChatGPT, how are you today?” I asked.

It replied, “As an AI language model, I don’t have personal feelings or emotions…”  There was no eye contact.  No smiles. No connection.  I went on to ask ChatGPT a variety of questions and got lots of interesting facts.  It is impressive technology.  But it does not compare to my exchange with the cashier. 

Human relationships are important.  “Namaste,” a customary greeting in India, illuminates the significance of human relationships: 

I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells.

I honor the place in you in which is love, truth, light and peace.

When you are in that place in you & I am in that place in me, we are one.

(attributed to Ram Dass)

When you truly greet someone, you see and honor the One Divine Reality that is being them.  It is the same Divine Reality that is being you and everyone.  The One Divine Reality is also the source of the whole universe.  Love, truth, light and peace arise from this One Divine Reality.  When you truly greet someone, it is the Divine Reality seeing and honoring the same Divine Reality in the other. 

The One Divine Reality has become everyone and everything.  You can see and honor the One Divine Reality in all its manifestations.  As I write this blog, the Ashram cat jumps onto my lap asking for food and cuddles.  While I see her as the one Divine Reality being a cat, she sees me as a source of food and pets.  It’s a delightful exchange, but it’s not as meaningful as with humans.  That’s because we humans have the capacity to know our own Divine Reality.  Therefore, when humans see each other, there is a capacity and depth of seeing that is deeper.  So human relationships are important to being human.

While relationships are important, they are also challenging.  When your dear ones are at their best, their one Divine Reality shines through their eyes, words and deeds.  They are so loveable.  But your dear ones aren’t always at their best.  When they are having a bad day, the One Divine Reality isn’t shining through as much.  Instead of being bathed in the rays of Divine Reality pouring through them, they are like a dark stormy cloud casting shadows.  You respond to their clouds and even forget your own light.  Then the two of you are lost in the shadows.  Relationships can be difficult.

Spiritual seekers have taken different approaches in dealing with the trickiness of human relationships.  A popular approach is to avoid human relationships.  Throughout time and across cultures, people have left relationships to live in solitude in the name of their spiritual search.  Saint Benedictine left Rome because he was disturbed by the immorality of the people.  He lived as a hermit in a cave for three years.  Similarly, India has a strong tradition of yogis living in the caves of the Himalayas. These yogis left relationships behind to avoid their distraction and impact.

In contrast, other spiritual traditions make relationships the keystone.  Some orders of nuns marry Jesus as part of their vows.  Bhakti yogis in India focus their practice on their love for God, typically Krishna as an incarnation of God.  Seekers on these paths pour their human capacity for relationship towards God.  God purifies and expands this human capacity.

Kashmir Shaivism is founded on a living human relationship.  It is centered on the Guru-Disciple relationship.  The Guru is one who abides in their own Divine Reality and has the duty to uplift others.  They don’t have any clouds casting shadows on their Divine Reality.  Instead, they shine brightly all the time.  When a Guru greets you, they only see your Divine Reality.  This is the blessing of the Guru-Disciple relationship.

One of the rituals that focuses on this divine sighting is called darshan.  The disciple comes up to the Guru, typically bows, and then has a moment with the Guru.  I have done this ritual with my Guru, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, hundreds of times.  

Recently, I had the opportunity for darshan after a deep meditation.  I felt grounded and expanded in my Divine Reality.  When I bowed and came up, Gurudevi was looking at me.  I could tell that she was seeing something more in me than I was experiencing.  She sees my Divinity even when I can’t.  Yet by seeing her seeing me, I knew there was more to me. And it felt magnetic.  Based in her Divine Reality, Gurudevi was drawing out the same One Divine Reality in me. 

Kashmir Shaivism also emphasizes that you are in a relationship with a living Guru.  You can have relationships with the past Gurus, similar to how the nuns marry Jesus and bhaktis devote their life to Krishna.  But the living Guru talks back.  The living Guru gives you practices.  The living Guru incorporates the reality of your physical form and senses.  The living Guru gives you a full bodied, multidimensional relationship.  In this way, all levels of your being may be purified by the light of the Divine Reality that shines from them.

The goal of the Guru relationship is for you to know your own Divine Reality.  The Guru sees the Divine Reality in you.  The Guru shines their Divine Reality fully to you.  You follow the Guru’s directions and practices to cooperate in the process.  Then you come to know your own Divine Reality all the time. Then you shine fully.  You then bring your Divine light into your relationships.  You don’t need your loved ones to shine to make them loveable.  Instead, you shine.  You see and honor the Divine Reality in them. 

More Than a Glorious Glimpse

By Swami Samvidaananda

As a teenager in the Eighties, I loved when Prince sang, “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate this thing called life.”  At least, that’s what I thought he sang.  The lyrics are actually “to get through this thing called life.”  I’ve had it wrong all this time!  

I think I misheard the lyrics because I actually celebrate this thing called life. Sure, at times I’ve felt like life was something to get through.  There’s been pain and the uncertainty of hard times.  But alongside that, I’ve had glimpses of the sacredness of life.  Moments of perceiving how being a human being is a precious opportunity.  And then I met my Guru.  She confirmed the reality of those glorious glimpses.  She teaches that life is Divine:

What seems to be only a mundane world is Divinely designed to engage you fully.  Each and every person, critter and object is made of the One Divine Energy, shakti, coalescing into a separate and fascinating form.  When you step into the marvel, the awe and majesty of this amazing creation, you live in the bliss of Consciousness

– Gurudevi Nirmalananda, “Being a Yogi in the World

The world is made of Divinity.  Well before modern day physics, yogis knew that everything is made of energy. Named shakti, this energy is not an inert, lifeless substance.  Shakti willingly, knowingly, blissfully chooses to be the dance of Existence.  More than merely conscious, she is Consciousness, concentrating into everything.  Every thing on this planet, every thing in the universe, every thing that exists.  Including you.  

You might think, “Well, okay, everything is made of Consciousness.  But not me.”  What are you made of, Swiss cheese?  Oh, Swiss cheese is made of Consciousness, too.  If everything that exists is made of the same substance, then that has to include you.  Your body is made of consciousness-concentrate.  Every cell is distilled Divinity. 

It’s like what Salinger’s short story character Teddy McArdle says:

I was six when I saw that everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all.  It was on a Sunday, I remember.  My sister was a tiny child then, and she was drinking her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God.  I mean, all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.

— J.D. Salinger, “Teddy,” Nine Stories, 1953

Do you know what he means?  As a human being, you have the unique capacity to know that everything is God, like Teddy did when he was six.  You’re not just a part of God, like you, Teddy, his sister and the milk are pieces of a God-puzzle.  All the pieces together make up the whole.  

It’s more like you are a drop of water When you drop into the ocean, kerplunk!  You merge with it.  Then, which part is the ocean and which part is the drop?  You’re the whole ocean.  Your Self = God = Consciousness = the One Divine Reality.  That is who you are.

So, how come you don’t know that’s who you are?  You do know, sometimes.  You get glimpses, like I did.  But it’s not enough.  You want more. To know your Divinity all the time, your capacity has to be activated. 

Gurudevi can do that for you with an initiation called Shaktipat. She is a Shaktipat Master, empowered and authorized by her lineage.  She doesn’t just tell you that you are Divine; she gives you the experience.  And she teaches you to meditate, so you can do your part. 

Every time you meditate with the lineage mantra, you immerse your mind in your Self.  Your mind needs the help, because it is used to focusing on the mundane instead of the Divine.  And it convinces you that you are small, separate, unworthy and unlovable.  

But when you meditate, you drench your mind in your Divinity.  Over time, your mind becomes less capable of blocking your bliss.  So you know the marvel, awe and majesty of this thing we call life.  We each have our role.  And we each are the whole — the whole of Divinity.  Outside and inside, there’s only One.  You find the One inside when you meditate.  Gurudevi will show you how.

What Is Night for an Owl

By Swami Prajñananda

Life is so precious.  I think we often forget that our years are numbered.  If you were to leave tomorrow, would you be satisfied with your life?  

I often wondered this, especially before yoga.  That made me do more.  Get a degree.  Get a new job.  Travel here.  Go there.  My purpose of life always seemed a little bit beyond my grasp.  I would wonder, “What is life all about?”  Is it about sleeping, eating, working, unwinding and doing it all again?  This felt to me like sleepwalking through life. 

There once was a crow king and an owl king.  They both lived in their respective parts of the forest with their family and friends.  One day the two kings met up.  The crow king had been pondering a question for some time.  He asked the owl king, “Why do you work at night?”  The owl, surprised, responded, “Oh brother, it is not I that works at night, it is you that works at night!”  

The crow was taken aback.  “This owl clearly is deluded,” he thought.  He shared this sentiment with the owl which sparked a long and heated debate.  The debate went on all through the day and into the night.  As the sky grew darker and darker, the owl pointed up and said “Ah, crow, now it is day!”  The crow exclaimed, “What are you talking about — look how dark it is, clearly it is night!”  Now they really started to fight.

A swan came by, in the midst of their arguing, and said, “Stop your fighting.  You are both right. What is day for a crow is night for an owl.  And what is day for an owl is night for a crow.” 

This story has a mystical meaning.  Most people live like the owl, caught up in the world and unaware of the deeper dimensions of their own being.  This lack of awareness is like night to a Self-Realized Being.  Such a one lives in the light of their own Divine Essence.  Yet the light they live in is so bright, it blinds one who does not know. 

Spiritual practice is all about turning your night into day.  It is about turning your not knowing into knowing.  This is explained in Katha Upanishad 1.3.14: 

Arise, awake!

Approach the great beings and understand the Truth.

The path is like the sharp edge of a razor,

Difficult to tread and difficult to cross.

(Translation by Swami Nirmalananda)

This sutra calls you to action: “Arise, awake!”  What are you doing with your life? Sure, you can get a BA, an MA, a Ph.D.  You can get your dream job, your dream house, your dream family.  

Yet, what do you have if you do not know who you are?  Yoga says your ultimate purpose is to know your own Divine Essence.  Your Essence is the substratum of this entire universe, while at the same time completely and individually you.  There is more to you than you think.  Arise!  Wake up to who you truly are. 

How do you do this?  “Approach the great beings and understand the Truth.”  You go to one who knows. Just like anything else in your life, you need a teacher.  In yoga, the one that guides your way on the path is called the Guru.  A qualified Guru is one who lives in the knowing and being of their own Divine Essence AND can show you the way.  

This is very important because the spiritual path is as sharp as a razor’s edge.  It is difficult to tread and hard to cross.  The spiritual path is as treacherous as climbing the steepest mountain on the narrowest trail.  Without a guide, you are vulnerable to slipping, falling, getting lost and ultimately not arriving at your destination. 

This is why the Guru is so important.  The Guru saves you from the traps along the path.  They even save you from the traps you lay down for yourself.  Plus, a Shaktipat Guru, like Gurudevi Nirmalananda, can do even more.  In addition to guiding you, she puts rocket fuel in your tank.  You are sped through the process at lightspeed!  

You have the unique opportunity to be Self-Realized in this lifetime.  Yet, how far will you go?  The answer is up to you.  While the Guru shows you the way and fuels your progress, you must take the steps yourself.  So what will it be?  Are you ready to wake up?

Where Is God?

By Swami Shrutananda

Really!  Where is God?  God is inside. The One Divine Reality has chosen to become the universe and everything in it.  This is described in the Pratyabhij~nahrdayam, sutra 4: 

Citi-sa.mkocaatmaa cetano’pi sa.mkucita-vi”sva-maya.h.

Consciousness willingly takes on contraction, in order to become both the universe and the individuals, who have the universe as their bodies in a contracted form.Rendered by Swami Nirmalananda

Before yoga, I looked for God outside.  God was up there somewhere.  My mind would imagine a white bearded guy up in the sky.  Some people see God as the formless.  Others see God in nature: in the sky, the trees, the majesty of the mountains, etc.  

Yoga agrees that God can be experienced when you look outside.  This is because the One Divine Reality manifested all things and becomes all things.  Yet this sutra also says more.  

The One Divine Reality, called “Consciousness” in this sutra, has chosen to become everything in this universe, including you.  God has become you and me.  Now, consider which is closer, God on the outside or God on the inside?  This is why yoga gives you practices for looking inside — particularly meditation.  

“Self” is the word yoga uses for the One Divine Reality when found inside.  Meditation, especially Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation, gives you deep and profound experiences of your own Self.  God has not only become me, but God is also being me.  God is being you.  This is a pretty radical statement.  

At first, I didn’t take this teaching personally.  Yet I finally got it when I heard my Guru — Gurudevi — explain it.  She said, “Seeing your own inner Self is more tangible than the sky.”  When I heard those words, God crystalized into being me.  In my physical body, with my mind, through all the levels of my own being, I experienced that I am God.  I am the One Divine Reality whether looking outside or inside.  There was a joy, an aliveness, a delight in being me! 

This is the foundation of all the yoga practices and teachings: God is being you.  Where is God?  Right here!  You are a physical tangible expression of the One Divine Reality.  Additionally, your mind is a contracted form of the One Divine Reality.  God is being you.  

To fully understand this radical statement, you have to personalize it.  Say it out loud, or even whisper to yourself, “I am a physical, tangible expression of the One Divine Reality.” 

God wants to be you.  God, the Self, is willingly choosing to be you with all your quirks and idiosyncrasies.  God delights in being you.  All you ever wanted was to be more you.  This is what yoga gives you.  Yoga gives you the knowing and the experience that God is being you. It is time to know that you are truly Divine.  

How do you come to know?

  • Do more Satsangs with Gurudevi.  She offers them every Sunday and Wednesday online or in person.  Gurudevi’s teachings and presence propel you inward to experience yoga’s profound, mystical truth that you are the Self.  

  • Do more meditation.  Meditate every day.  For support in making your daily meditation consistent, join our online Meditation Club.  Gurudevi will make meditation deep and easy for you.