|Posted by Yogendra Nath Yogi on May 16, 2011 at 7:46 AM||comments (6)|
Breath and Yoga
Life causes us to breathe, and breath causes us to live. Breath leads us into the outer life, and it will lead us into the inner life–to the principle of Life itself. Therefore meditation practices involving the breath are found in many mystical traditions.
Breath plays such an important part in the technique of Om Yoga because the breath is the meeting place of body, mind, and spirit.
“The breath and the mind are completely interconnected and interrelated.”
The breath and the body are completely interconnected and interrelated, as is seen from the fact that the breath is calm when the body is calm, and agitated or labored when the body is agitated or labored. The heavy exhalation made when feeling exhausted and the enthusiastic inhalation made when feeling energized or exhilarated establish the same fact.
The breath and the emotions are completely interconnected and interrelated, as is seen from the fact that the breath is calm when the emotions are calm, and agitated and labored when the emotions are agitated or out of control. Our drawing of a quick breath, when we are surprised, shocked, or fearful, and the forceful exhalation done when angry or annoyed demonstrate this.
The breath and the mind are completely interconnected and interrelated, as is seen from the fact that the breath is calm when the mind is calm, and agitated, irregular, and labored when the mind is agitated or disturbed in any way. Our holding of the breath when attempting intense concentration also shows this.
Breath, which exists on all planes of manifestation, is the connecting link between matter and energy on the one hand and consciousness and mind on the other. It is necessary for the vitalization and functioning of all vehicles of consciousness, physical or superphysical.
“Ultimately, we come into contact with the Breather of the breath, our own spirit.”
We start with awareness of the ordinary physical breath, but that awareness, when cultivated correctly, leads us into higher awareness which enables us to perceive the subtle movement behind the breath. Ultimately, we come into contact with the Breather of the breath, our own spirit. In many spiritual traditions the same word is used for both breath and spirit, underscoring the esoteric principle that in essence they are the same, though we naturally think of spirit as being the cause of breath(ing). The word used for both breath and spirit is: In Judaism, Ruach. In Eastern Christianity (and ancient Greek religion), Pneuma. In Western Christianity (and ancient Roman religion), Spiritus (which comes from spiro, “I breathe”). In Hinduism and Buddhism, Atma (from the root word at which means “to breathe”), and Prana.
The identity of the breath with the individual spirit, the atman (self)
The breath is the spirit in extension. “The Self is the breath of the breath.” (Kena Upanishad 1:2) “The breaths are the Real, and their Reality is the Self.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.1.20)
The breath is a key to experience of the Self. When we relax and make ourselves aware of the breath, the mind naturally turns within and begins tracing the breath-thread back to the consciousness of which it is the dualistic manifestation. This is accomplished by breathing naturally and letting the breath do as it will rather than by forcing it into artificial modes.
The breath can lead us inward into the center–to the spirit. When we observe the breath, we actually observe our spirit acting. “He who breathes in with your breathing in is your Self. He who breathes out with your breathing out is your Self.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.4.1) Through the breath we can become established in the consciousness that is the Self.
The identity of the breath with the Supreme Spirit, Brahman
But breath is much more than an individual matter, and therefore is more than a means to uncover the individual consciousness of which it is a manifestation. It is also a bridge to the Infinite Consciousness, being rooted in the Supreme Spirit. The breath is the living presence and action of God.
“O Prana, lord of creation, thou as breath dwellest in the body.” (Prashna Upanishad 2.7)
“When one breathes, one knows him as breath.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.7)
“Self-luminous is that Being, and formless. He dwells within all and without all. He is unborn, pure, greater than the greatest. From him is born the breath.” (Mundaka Upanishad 2.1.2,3) Since the breath rises from God, it can be resolved back into God.
“Breath is a part of Brahman.” (Chandogya Upanishad 4.9.3)
“The being who is the breath within–him I meditate upon as Brahman.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.1.6)
“Breath is the Immortal One.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.6.3)
“The breath is real, and He [Brahman] is the reality of the breath.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.3.6)
“The shining, immortal person who is breath is the Self, is Brahman.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.5.4)
“Which is the one God? The breath. He is Brahman.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.9.9)
“They who know the breath of the breath…have realized the ancient, primordial Brahman.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.18)
“The breath is the Supreme Brahman. The breath never deserts him who, knowing thus, meditates upon it. Having become a god, he goes to the gods.” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.1.3)
|Posted by Yogendra Nath Yogi on May 16, 2011 at 7:45 AM||comments (0)|
Merchandisers of religion or spirituality (and oftentimes yoga) assure their audiences that "you cannot get spirituality from books." They are right. But neither can you get spirituality from their lectures or seminars. (And is it not interesting that they usually have books, audiotapes, and videotapes to sell you?) But spiritual wisdom-in fact everything you need to awaken and develop your spiritual consciousness-can be found in books. You just need to know which ones.
Sanatana Dharma-Eternal Truth-is based on the direct experience of the sages of primeval India as well as the corroborating experiences of yogis throughout thousands of years. Originally all spiritual teachings were committed to memory only, but in time they were written down to ensure their correct preservation. Simple as it is, Sanatana Dharma in its purity is found in twelve basic texts: the Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka, and Svetasvatara Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, this last one being a digest and exposition of the upanishadic philosophy with emphasis on its practical application.
Although Om is to be found in each upanishad, at least as part of the opening and closing mantras of blessing, eight of them have sections dealing with Om Itself.
"Om is Brahman, the Primeval Being. This is the Veda which the knowers of Brahman know; through it one knows what is to be known."1
Om is Divinity Itself. This is an incredible truth. To fill the mind and consciousness with Om is to divinize ourself, to evoke that eternal Self which is our real being.
Everything that exists is a manifestation of God. So lest we mistakenly decide that Om is divine because it-like everything else-only symbolizes the Divine or is a part or reflection of the Divine, the upanishad continues, telling us that Om is "the Primeval Being." Om is not a permutation, extension, or evolute of Brahman; It is Brahman in Its absolute, primeval state. Om does not lead us to Brahman, It IS Brahman. We need only realize that, and then we shall have attained Self-realization. For Om is our very Self, since Brahman is our Self.
Those who know Brahman do not bother with the ritualistic hymns of the Vedas to obtain their desires, but chant only Om to obtain fulfillment of their desires-especially the desire for divine knowledge. For "through It one knows what is to be known." "Veda" can mean knowledge or wisdom when found in the scriptures, so we can also consider this statement to mean that Om is the knowledge and wisdom of those who know God-since it is God. Om is that Ishwara of whom Patanjali said: "In Him is the seed of omniscience."
If we accept the statements of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad regarding Om we will also readily accept the mandate of the Chandogya Upanishad: "One should meditate on this Syllable [Om]."2 If we do so, we shall certainly come to omniscience, for the upanishad also says regarding Om: "That is the quintessence of the essences, the Supreme, the highest."3 United with Om we are united with ALL. Om, then is not just the seed of omniscience, but of omnipresence as well.
This union does not just produce a theoretical or intellectual result, but rather the mastery of life itself, for a little further on the upanishads says: "Speech [vak] and life force [prana] are joined together in the Syllable Om. Verily, whenever the pair come together, they fulfil each other's desire. He who knowing this thus, meditates on the Syllable, becomes, verily, a fulfiller of desires."4 Here the word prana means the Vishwaprana, the Universal Life Force which is incarnate in every living being in the form of the five pranas that support all the functions of living organisms. Om is more than sound, It is Life Itself. Om is the seed of both vak and prana, which are its expressions. That is why Om is also called Pranava. The major idea here is that Om is not only the seed of omniscience and omnipresence, It is also the seed of omnipotence.
The upanishad continues with the exposition of Om as the power of fulfillment, saying: "Verily, this Syllable is of assent, for whenever one assents to anything he says simply 'Om.' What is assent is fulfillment. He, who knowing this thus, meditates on the Syllable, becomes, verily, a fulfiller of desires."5 Meditation on Om is a guarantor of our wishes being fulfilled. However, since Om is a bestower of wisdom,6 obviously we will not be desiring trivial or harmful things. For Om will illumine us and dispel those illusory desires.
"Saying Om, one recites: saying Om, one orders: saying Om, one sings aloud, in honor of that Syllable, with its greatness and its essence. He who knows this thus, and he who knows not, both perform with It. Knowledge and ignorance, however, are different. What, indeed, one performs with knowledge, faith, and meditation, that, indeed becomes more powerful. This, verily is the explanation of this Syllable."7
A little later the upanishad returns to the power of Om to fulfil desires, saying: "He obtains wishes by singing [intoning], who knowing this, meditates on the udgitha8 [Om] as the syllable. This, with regard to the self."9 The wielders of Om, being made wise, desire only the Self. And Om reveals the Self to them.
Then the upanishad describes how the gods-highly evolved beings-wished to escape death and become immortal. At first they tried to do this through recitation of the Vedas, but they were easily approached by death. So they took refuge in Om. Wherefore the upanishad continues, saying of Om: "This sound is that syllable, the immortal, the fearless. Having entered this, the gods became immortal, fearless. He who knows it thus, praises this Syllable, takes refuge in that Syllable, in the immortal, fearless sound, and having entered it, he becomes immortal, even as the gods became immortal."10
The upanishadic sages had much to say about the sun as the source of life. Even more, they identified it with Om, saying: "Now, verily, what is the udgitha is the Om. What is Om is the udgitha. And so verily, the udgitha is the yonder sun and the Om, for the sun is continually sounding 'Om.'"11
The rishis of India considered that the sun was the origin of the planets of the solar system and that all sentient beings came into the physical plane through the sun which is a gateway to the astral realms. To them the sun was not a ball of flaming gases but a sphere of concentrated life forces (this is also the speculation of some astronomers) through which the souls that have evolved beyond the need for earthly experience pass back through again to higher worlds.
The sun continually vibrates Om according to the upanishads,12 and those who continually intone Om align themselves with its evolutionary energies and greatly quicken their upward development. Having established a profound affinity with the sun through a lifetime of Om meditation, they easily pass upward and through the sun, escaping the compulsion to material rebirth.
To reinforce this, the upanishad goes on: "One should meditate on the breath in the mouth as the udgitha, for it is continually sounding 'Om.'"13 The upward-moving prana which manifests as the breath is continually sounding "Om" in the subtle levels. Yogis who focus on the breath will eventually hear the subtle whispering form of Om being produced deep within them with each breath. This is called ajapa japa by the yogis-spontaneous, automatic japa that is innate in each of us. Since our soul is always breathing Om, by intoning Om we put ourselves in tune with the very wellspring of our existence, linking up with our inmost consciousness. This is why sometimes in meditation we find ourselves naturally intoning Om in time with our breath. How profound is this tiny syllable!
Karma, good or bad, is a major concern of those who seek liberation from rebirth, for both are bonds that tie us to the wheel of constant birth and death. We conduct the "sacrifice" of our life as the director, the "hotri priest." Therefore the upanishad tells us: "Now, verily, what is the udgitha is the Pranava. What is Pranava is the udgitha. [If one knows this], verily, from the seat of the hotri priest, all wrong singing is corrected, yea is corrected."14 Symbolically speaking, we "sing" our life's directions as does the hotri priest. But through Om, "all wrong singing is corrected, yea is corrected." For Om lifts us beyond the sphere of cause and effect and sets us free.
"This is the udgitha [Om], highest and best. This is endless. He who, knowing this, mediates on udgitha, the highest and best, becomes the highest and best and obtains the highest and best worlds. When Atidhanvan Shunaka taught this udgitha to Udara Shandilya, he also said: 'As long as they shall know this udgitha among your descendants, so long their life in this world will be the highest and best.' And so will their state in that other world be. One who thus knows and meditates-his life in this world becomes the highest and best, and so his state in that other world, yea, in that other world.'"15 Om glorifies both this life and the life beyond.
Speech, vak, is the essence of life. Therefore in grave illness and at the time of death the power of speech usually fails. As milk becomes diluted in water, so the consciousness of the departing soul becomes dispersed and wanders, confused. But this is not so for those who cling even in death to the repetition of Om. For that yogi: "As all leaves are held together by the stalk, so is all speech held together by Om. Verily, the Syllable Om is all this, yea, the Syllable Om is all this."16 Om is every aspect of life itself.
Speaking of the final exit of the soul from the body, the upanishad states: "Even as a great extending highway runs between two villages, this one and that yonder, even so the rays of the sun go to both these worlds, this one and that yonder. They start from the yonder sun and enter into the nadis. They start from the nadis and enter into the yonder sun....When a man departs from this body, then he goes upwards by these very rays or he goes up with the thought of Om. As his mind is failing, he goes to the sun. That, verily, is the gateway of the world, an entering in for the knowers, a shutting out for the non-knowers."17
In the Katha Upanishad we find profoundest teachings on the true Self and its destiny. The inquirer asks to be taught the Transcendent Reality. The answer he receives is this: "I will tell you briefly of that Goal which all the Vedas with one voice propound, which all the austerities speak of, and wishing for Which people practice discipline: It is Om."18 To be very colloquial: Om is IT.
Though absolute Unity, God is seemingly dual: transcendent and immanent, with form and formless, with qualities and without qualities. The duality really is only in our way of seeing it. Yet, since it is our minds that we have to work with (and through) the sages speak of "higher" and "lower" Brahman. Obviously there are not two Absolutes, nor is God split in two. It is a matter of perception alone. This must be kept in mind in considering the following.
"Om, indeed, is the Lower Brahman; this is, indeed, the Higher Brahman. Anyone who, meditating on Om, wishes either of the Two [aspects], by him that is attained."19 Om is both transcendent and immanent. In which ever plane we wish to abide, Om is the basis, the illuminator, the key to comprehension and mastery.
There may be various ways to approach the Goal, but Om is the Goal. Logically, then, the upanishad concludes: "This [Om] is the best means [of attainment and realization]; this means is the Higher and Lesser Brahman. Meditating on Om, one becomes worthy of worship in the world of Brahman."20 Om is that which transforms us, elevating our consciousness to the realm of the Divine and establishing it therein.
"Om: this Syllable is all this. All that is past, the present and the future, all this is only the Syllable Om. And whatever else there is beyond the threefold time, that too is only the Syllable Om."21 From the original Sound, Om, all things have come into manifestation as Its extension-embodiments. Everything that has ever existed, now exists, or shall exist, is the expansion of Om. Om is all-embracing Eternity, containing and transcending past, present, and future. There is nothing but Om. That being true, the upanishad then says: "The Self [atman] is of the nature of the Syllable Om....Thus the Syllable Om is the very Self. He who knows It thus enters the Self [Supreme Spirit] with his self [individual spirit]."22 By means of Om, the eternal wave merges into the eternal Sea.
The Mundaka Upanishad speaks further on meditation.
"Taking as the bow the great weapon of the Upanishads [Om], one should place in It the arrow sharpened by meditation. Drawing It with a mind engaged in the contemplation of That [Brahman], O beloved, know that Imperishable Brahman as the target."23 The power of Om is emphasized by calling it a great weapon. Its intent and effect are serious and mighty-nothing less than union with the Absolute. It is called "the great weapon of the Upanishads" to indicate that Om, and Om alone, is the effective means recommended by the scriptures of Eternal Dharma for the realization of God. The japa and meditation of Om impel the consciousness of the yogi toward the Goal-Brahman. Moreover, it is the meditation of Om that "sharpens" the consciousness and renders it capable of union with Brahman. "The Syllable Om is the bow: one's self, indeed, is the arrow. Brahman is spoken of as the target of that. It is to be hit without making a mistake. Thus one becomes united with it [Brahman] as the arrow becomes one with the target."24 It is Om that ensures we will unerringly ("without a mistake") reach the Goal.
"He in Whom the sky, the earth, and the interspace are woven, as also the mind along with all the pranas, know Him alone as the one Self. Dismiss other utterances. This [Om] is the bridge to immortality."25 The "He" in this verse is Om Itself, which is Brahman. It is the one Self. To drive the point home that Om is the sole means of uniting with Brahman, the upanishad states absolutely and flat-footedly: Dismiss other utterances-all other japa mantras. Why? Because only Om is the bridge to immortality. It is Om that leads us "from death to Immortality."
Yet, we must not sell ourselves short by thinking that we are of small capacity and consequently of little worth, thinking that Om is some kind of separate gimmick or tool that will do for us what we cannot. No: Our realization through Om is accomplished by Om as our own Self. Therefore: "Meditate on Om as the Self. May you be successful in crossing over to the farther shore of darkness."26 It is we ourselves that are to "be successful in crossing over to the farther shore of darkness." We are Om.
Living in the world of gadgetry, from mousetraps to atom bombs, one of the most frequent questions we (reasonably) ask is: "Does it work?" According to the Prashna Upanishad, "Satyakama, son of Shibi, asked [the Rishi Pippalada]: 'Venerable Sir, what world does he who meditates on Om until the end of his life, win by That?' To him, he said: 'That which is the sound Om, O Satyakama, is verily the higher and the lower Brahman. Therefore, with this support alone does the wise man reach the one or the other.'...If he meditates on the Supreme Being [Parampurusha] with the Syllable Om, he becomes one with the Light, the Sun. He is led to the world of Brahman. He sees the Person that dwells in the body, Who is higher than the highest life....That the wise one attains, even by the mere sound Om as support, That Which is tranquil, unaging, immortal, fearless, and supreme."27 Om does it all.
"Om is the Supreme Brahman, and in It are the Triad. It is the firm support, the imperishable. The knowers of Brahman by knowing what is therein [in the all-containing Om] become merged in Brahman, intent thereon [i.e., on Om] and freed from birth."28 Two important concepts are introduced here regarding Om.
First is the fact that the Triad (trayam) is contained within Om. These are the three Eternals: the Supreme Spirit, the individual spirit(s), and the divine creative Power (Shakti or Prakriti). These three are all Om. This is the usual interpretation. It would not be amiss, however, to consider the Triad as the entire realm of physical, astral, and causal existence-body, mind, and soul on the individual level. In sum: Om is the totality of being.
Second, although it is implied in previous upanishadic quotes, it is plainly stated that Om frees us from rebirth. More to the point, it frees us from the need for rebirth. Rebirth occurs because we have not fully realized our divine potential. Om unfolds that potential and thereby frees us.
"As the form of fire when latent in its source is not seen and yet its seed is not destroyed, but may be seized again and again in its source by means of the drill [a pointed stick whirled to produce fire for the Vedic sacrifices], so it is in both cases. The Self has to be seized in the body by means of the Syllable Om. By making one's body the lower friction stick and the Syllable Om the upper friction stick, by practicing the friction of meditation one may see the hidden God, as it were."29 Here we may see a hint of the practice of feeling our intonations of Om throughout the body as well as the way our awareness may be drawn to various points in the body during meditation.
"The knower of the real nature of Brahman that is identical with the Pranava, after keeping his body erect, by holding the three parts [the chest, the neck, and the head] in an upright posture, placing all the organs of perception and action along with the mind in his heart, should cross all the formidable streams [of samsara] with the ferryboat of the Pranava."30 "Heart" in this verse means the Self, the core of our being, rather than the physical heart or the "heart chakra." The idea is that through meditating on Om all the "rays" or faculties of our mind become merged in the consciousness of the Self. This is perfect enlightenment, so the upanishad also says: "God is the Syllable Om, out of Him proceeds the Supreme Knowledge."31
"Om is Brahman. Om is all this. He who utters Om with the intention 'I shall attain Brahman' does verily attain Brahman."32 Om is the great empowerer of our will. Whatever we desire or intend, if it is in harmony with the divine order, it shall come about. The supreme aspiration is to attain total union with God. And the upanishad assures us that if we do the japa and meditation of Om with this purpose in mind it will facilitate our attainment. Secondarily this verse informs us that if we continually keep intoning Om throughout all our activities, Om will guarantee their success and fruition, whatever they might be. For Om encompasses the entire range of being, from the material to the spiritual. Those who are proficient in Om Yoga will become proficient in everything.
The supreme sage, Vyasa, in order to give us a complete picture of the upanishadic wisdom as well as the way to apply it in our life so we may attain the same vision of the sages who authored them, wrote the Bhagavad Gita based on the instructions given by Krishna to Arjuna on the eve of the Great Indian (Mahabharata) War on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Om is a central element in Krishna's exposition of spiritual life and practice.
Speaking from his perspective as the Infinite Being, enumerating his major manifestation-embodiments, Krishna says: "I am the syllable Om."33 He also says the same thing in 9:17 ("I am...the sacred monosyllable") and 10:25 ("Among words I am the monosyllable Om"). The meaning is that Om is not a symbol of God, It is God. So there can be nothing greater or a subject more important.
What to "do" with Om is then outlined by Krishna: "Engaged in the practice of concentration,34 uttering the monosyllable Om--the Brahman--remembering Me always, he...attains to the supreme goal. I am easily attainable by that ever-steadfast Yogi who constantly and daily remembers Me."35
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
God is the beginning, middle, and end of yoga. The beginning, middle, and end of yoga texts is the Yoga Darshan (Yoga Sutras) of Patanjali. It has not only never been superseded, it has never been equalled. It stands alone as the sole authority on yoga outside the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. Here are its words on God and yoga:
"Ishwara [God] is a particular Purusha [Spirit, Person] Who is untouched by the afflictions of life, actions, and the results and impressions produced by these actions. In Him is the highest limit of omniscience.36 Being unconditioned by time He is teacher even of the ancients. His designator [vachaka] is the Pranava [Om].37 Its japa [constant repetition] and bhavanam is the way [or: should be done]. From it result [come] the disappearance of obstacles and the turning inward of consciousness. Disease, languor, doubt, carelessness, laziness, worldly-mindedness, delusion, non-achievement of a stage, instability, these cause the distraction of the mind and they are the obstacles. [Mental] pain, despair, nervousness, and agitation are the symptoms of a distracted condition of mind. For removing these obstacles [there should be] the constant practice of the one principle [the japa and bhavanam of Om]."38
|Posted by Yogendra Nath Yogi on May 16, 2011 at 7:44 AM||comments (10)|
Sudhakar S. Dikshit By the sound Om one proceeds upward and attains rest in the soundless. This is the goal, this is immortality, this is union, this is happiness. Just as a spider that climbs up its own thread reaches free space, so also one who meditates rises up by repeating Om and reaches ultimate freedom.
(Maitri Upanishad, 6:22)
The unmanifest Brahman,2 awakening into the self-awareness of I AM, manifested itself through the mighty explosion of the primordial atom and the cosmos came to be. Shankaracharya’s3 commentary on the Brahma Sutras4 says that “The sound created by the explosion of the primordial atom gave rise to the causal, subtle and gross forms of the universe.” And since then innumerable forms–causal, subtle and gross–are reverberating ceaselessly with cosmic vibrations in an awesome multiplicity of notes–tonic, supertonic and harmonic–converting the universe into a sort of orchestra of trumpets, trombones, cymbals, conches and numerous other musical instruments known and unknown, causing what the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras called “music of the spheres.”
Beyond the earth, far far beyond, a majestic music is being played continuously by the gravity forces, called the “interplanetary harmonics” by astronomers. The heavens are not vacant and silent, but full and vibrant with a mystic melody comprising planetary chimes as well as the plaintive song of atoms, unknown to us and unheard by us. And unheard by us is even the strident crescendo of the universal orchestration in which galaxies, stars and planets whirl around perpetually in spirals, cycles, whorls and vortices causing incessant resonance, as if from some invisible kettledrum, similar in pitch and sonority to the clang and boom of the damaru5 of Lord Shiva6 during his frenzied cosmic dance. This unheard, dynamic vibrato is recognized in the Vedas as the sound-vehicle of the power of Brahman permeating the cosmos as the forces of creation and destruction. It is designated as the Shabda Brahman, that is the Ultimate Reality in its aspect of sound. The Yoga Shiksha Upanishad says: “That indestructible transcendent vibrating sound is Shabda-Brahman.” In the Bible also Shabda, the Word, has been identified with God. Says the Bible. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.”7
No cosmic sound can be heard by man’s naked ears. Scientists have found that the sound emanating from planets is pitched twenty octaves below man’s hearing, while the song of the atom is sung a complementary twenty octaves above it, leaving us “musically midway” between the trebles and basses of the micro and macro-cosmic worlds. But the electronic ears of the sensitive seismographs have recorded sound waves travelling outward as expanding spheres of compression through the rock and magma of the earth. And scientists using high power antennas have detected in space a micro-wave musical sound coming constantly from all directions. But all these sounds remain unheard by man.
However, the unheard cosmic sounds, the symphony of Shabda-Brahman, was heard by the Vedic8 seers in their spiritual trances and is enshrined in the Upanishads9 as the syllable Om, the first and foremost of all the mantras,10 which they identified with Brahman, the ultimate reality. In the Katha Upanishad, Yama, the lord of death, while enlightening Nachiketas about the nature of the eternal reality says: “The word which all the Vedas extol, towards which all asceticisms point, in quest of which men live disciplined lives, that will I tell you: that is Om.”11 The supreme importance of Om has been dwelt upon in the Mundaka, Prashna, Maitri and other Upanishads also as well as in the Brahmanas.
The syllable Om is formed of three letters A, U, and M in a single sound Om–A and U combining together to make the sound O and M, which prolongs the O in a nasal resonance. Oooommmm–a sound like millions of bees humming together in chorus, perhaps more like the resounding reverberation produced by some colossal top whirling round and round at tremendous velocity.
Om is the primordial sound (nada) symbolizing the cosmic process; it is the primordial word (shabda, vak) symbolizing Brahman. Though held in the highest esteem, it is a word which says nothing, for it means nothing. It is not a prayer to God, nor a symbol of any sacramental value. It is just a word, just a sound that synchronizes with the symphony of the manifestation of the unmanifest Brahman. Repeated utterance of Om in a spirit of dedication integrates man with Brahman, because it is concentrated reality, made word and sound. Uttering of Om is identifying oneself with the cosmic resonance and thereby reentering the source from which one emerged. Om is the quintessence, the seed-syllable of the universe. It is the acme of man’s quest for Brahman.
However, the efficacy of the mantric12 power of Om emanates not only from its sound vibrations, but also from the inner attitude of the speaker; his spiritual purity and his freedom from worldliness. You cannot dye in a bright color a dirty garment with stains of grease and grime. It has to be thoroughly cleansed first. Unless one turns away from the outside world of objects of allurements, one cannot step into the inner world of all-embracing consciousness. Mere mechanical uttering of Om repeatedly can be of no avail, unless it is accompanied with a single-minded dedication and a firm faith that the Brahman who permeates the entire creation, and also resides in the innermost recesses of man, will be revealed through Om meditation.
Mantra is the sound-body of consciousness. It is the operative energy that connects the objective and subjective aspects of reality through the union of mind (manas) with word (vak). But it is not just an utterance; it is much more. It is the harmonic function, starting from the unmanifest and appearing as manifest, and then returning to the source in a reversible action of cyclicity. Just as in the outer space waves of sound are produced by cosmic movements, so in the space within man’s interior (chidakasha) waves of sound are produced by the utterance of Om, which are in tune with the cosmic resonance.
Manifestation of the Ultimate Reality takes place through the vibrations of Shabda Brahman, for vibration is an expression of energy and the action and interaction of vibrations produce all the phenomena on many different planes. Each particular vibration produces perception of a corresponding note in consciousness. Therefore, particular states of consciousness can be brought about by initiating particular kinds of vibrations. Of the fifty-two letters in the Devanagari [Sanskrit] script each letter has in it the seed of a particular vibration and each letter can act as an embodiment of the basic eternal power. Letters in Sanskrit are called akshara, the eternal; they are sound symbols of the eternal reality. Om is indeed the eternal vehicle of spiritual power.
The sound of Om is particularly supercharged with transcendental atmic13 force, since it is vibrant with the cosmic resonance, which is constant, continuous and self-propelled. Sri Aurobindo observes that “Om is the mantra, the expressive sound-symbol of Brahman Consciousness.…The function of a mantra is to create vibrations in the inner consciousness, that will prepare for realization.…The Mantra leads towards the opening of consciousness to the sight and feeling of One-consciousness in all things–in the inner being and the supraphysical worlds and the causal plane.”
The Maitri Upanishad mentions two aspects of Brahman, the higher and the lower. The higher Brahman being the unmanifest Supreme Reality which is soundless and totally quiescent and restful, the lower being the Shabda Brahman which manifests itself into the ever-changing restless cosmos through the medium of sound vibrations. The Upanishad says that “Two Brahmans there are to be known: one as sound and the other as Brahman supreme.”14 The process of manifestation is from soundlessness to sound, from noumenality to phenomenality, from perfect quiescence of “being” to the restlessness of “becoming.” This process can be reversed through Om meditation and the aspirant, like a spider that “climbs up its own thread,” can go back from the sound to the soundless, from phenomenality to noumenality, from the restlessness of the “becoming” to the perfect quiescence of “being.” Through Om he can arrive at the source.
The grand idea of the unmanifest Brahman becoming manifest and its perfect quiescence converting into restlessness is beautifully portrayed in a poetic elaboration of an aphorism of the Brahma Sutra, worded lokavattu lilakaivalyam, being Aphorism 33 of Pada 1. The poetic version of this aphorism has been reproduced at length by Dr. Bhagwan Das in his book, entitled Essential Unity of All Religions, without mentioning the name of the poet who composed the poem. I cannot resist the temptation of quoting a few lines from it as they are germane to the subject under consideration.
In the vast ocean boundless, fathomless,
A giant billow surges; in the immense
Sleep of the Infinite, Eternal space
There is a stirring, and a central point
Of whirling, vibrant restlessness doth rise;
From restful Brahman restless Brahman is born.
Om is the sound vehicle of Shabda-Brahman. As a Mantra it has the power to arouse sound waves and vibrations. By vibrations is not meant the undulating gross sound that is heard by the ears. The spiritual efficacy of Om is based not on the gross sound, but on the subtle sound, which is heard, not by the ears but by the heart, which is uttered not by the mouth but by the mind. Lama Anagarika Govinda in his famous book Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism while eulogizing Om says: “Om is the quintessence, the seed-syllable (bija mantra) of the universe, the universal force of the all-embracing consciousness.”
He asserts that the sound Om surcharges the innermost being of man with vibrations of the highest reality, destroying in the process all the artificial limitations that he has imposed upon himself through his petty egoistic self. Om is the primordial sound of the timeless reality which vibrates in all creation, including man, from the time manifestation of the cosmos came to be. It is the eternal rhythm that reverberates within us all the time, though unknown to us.
When Om-consciousness deepens after prolonged practice its sound ceases to be audible and merges into the stillness of the higher Brahman, the ultimate reality.
There are a few treatises in which the cardinal points of Om meditation, called the Nada Yoga, are discussed. They mention four types of sound, among which the grossest is named vaikhari, that is the audible sound heard by the human ears. It is the least effective spiritually, since it is closest to the material plane. For attainment of the Brahman Consciousness only the subtler varieties of sound can prove effective, the subtlest of them, known as para, being the ultimate step leading to the merger of the aspirant’s soul with the Supreme Reality. Two of the lesser known Upanishads, named Nadabindu and Hamsa, have thrown abundant light on the process of Om meditation. The Nadabindu Upanishad says: “Being indifferent towards all objects, he who has controlled his passions should continuously concentrate upon the sound which dissolves the mind.…the sound proceeding from Pranava (Om) which is Brahman itself.”
This Upanishad exhorts that the sound of Om is of the nature of effulgence; that mind exists so long as the sound exists, but when sound is absorbed in the soundless Brahman, mind is dissolved finally and irrevocably. The state of self-realization is now reached. Through sound the soundless Brahman has been revealed, the din and darkness of worldly life is ended for ever and silence now prevails, the eternal silence in which the sound, spirit and matter merge together losing their separate identities. This is a state of luminous consciousness, a new life–simple, pure, limpid and dynamic which defies all description.
|Posted by Yogendra Nath Yogi on May 16, 2011 at 7:42 AM||comments (0)|
Om the mantra Om is the original Word of Power, a mantra. A mantra is a series of verbal sounds whose effect lies not in an assigned intellectual meaning, but in an inherent sound-power that can produce a specific effect, physically or psychologically. The word mantra itself comes from the Sanskrit expression manat trayate which means “a transforming thought;” literally, “that which when thought carries across”–which produces an objective, perceptible change. It also literally means “a liberating thought.” “In the Yoga tradition, Om is the supreme mantra, the most sacred of holy words” In the Yoga tradition, Om is the supreme mantra, the most sacred of holy words. Although it is first found in the spiritual writings of Hinduism, Om is used by Buddhists and Jains in their rituals and meditation, and has also passed over into the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem religions in the form of Amin (Amen), which is intoned at the end of all prayers, and in Christianity is even a title of Christ. “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” (Revelation 3:14) Om is also called: Pranava, Omkara, and Ekakshara. Pranava means both life-giver (infuser of prana) and controller of life force (prana). “That which causes all the pranas to prostrate themselves before and get merged in the Paramatman, so as to attain identity with Him, is for that reason known as the Pranava.” (Atharvashikha Upanishad 1:10a) Omkara means “the Om” or even “the Om thing” just as ahankara means “I-ness” or the principle of “I.” Ekakshara means “one letter,” but its usual meaning is “one syllable” or “the one-syllable Word.” It also means “the Only Imperishable,” indicating its identity with God, and always refers to Om. The first recorded teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi, written down by him in response to the request of a seeker, was: “The Ekakshara [Om] shines for ever in the heart as the Self.” Om–the Word This sacred syllable is spelled out either as Om or Aum, but It is usually written in the ideogrammatic forms: small Om symbol or Bengali Om symbol It is most important in repeating Om to pronounce the O correctly. It should be pronounced like the long o in the Italian or common American manner–as in home and lone. In England, Canada, and parts of the American South, the long o is sometimes pronounced as a diphthong, like two vowels jammed together: either like “ay-oh” or “eh-oh.” This is not the correct manner of pronouncing the O, which should be a single, pure vowel sound. Om is also considered to be formed of the three letters a, u, and m, which represent the three states of waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep respectively, as well as the physical, astral, and causal levels of existence. In Sanskrit, when a and u are combined they produce the sound of o. However, this only applies to verbal speech. In mental “speaking” we make the pure sound of o, not a and u together. So the inner Om is only two letters, not three. Om is more effective if it is mentally intoned–that is, mentally “sung” on a single note (the pitch does not matter–whatever is spontaneous and natural). This makes the repetition stronger and of deeper effect, because intoning Om unifies the mind and naturally concentrates it. Om should be intoned giving full value to both the O and the M. That is, Om should be intoned with equal time on both letters: Oooommmm. Not Oommmmmm or Oooooomm. You need not be overexacting about this, but approximately so. The way to receive the benefit of a mantra is japa, the continual repetition-intonation of the mantra. In this way the invoker is constantly imbued with the power and consciousness inherent in the mantra. Shankara, commenting on Patanjali’s statement that “His [God’s] spoken form is Om,” says: “This sutra explains the form in which the devotee contemplates on Hi
|Posted by Yogendra Nath Yogi on May 16, 2011 at 7:41 AM||comments (0)|
The Practice of Om Yoga Meditation
1) Sit upright, comfortable and relaxed, with your hands on your knees or thighs or resting, one on the other, in your lap.
2) Breathe naturally. Your mouth should be closed so that all breathing is done through the nose. This aids in quieting the mind. Though your mouth is closed, the jaw muscles should be relaxed so the upper and lower teeth are not clenched or touching one another, but parted.
3) Gently and without any strain turn your eyes upward as though looking at a point far distant. Then gently close them–do not squeeze them tight. This removes visual distractions and reduces your brain-wave activity by about seventy-five percent, thus helping to calm the mind. It also stimulates superconscious awareness as will be explained soon.
4) Be aware of your breath naturally (automatically) flowing in and out as you breathe through your nose. Your breathing should always be easeful and natural, not deliberate or artificial.
5) Now begin mentally intoning (“singing” on a single note) Om once throughout each inhalation and once throughout each exhalation. Fit the intonations to the breath–not the breath to the intonations. If the breath is short, then the intonation should be short. If the breath is long, then the intonation should be long. Make sure the O and the M get approximately “equal time”–Oooommmm, not Oommmmmm or Oooooomm. Don’t torture yourself about this–approximately equal is good enough, and in time your intonations will automatically occur in this right manner. Also, your intonation of Om should begin when your inhalation/exhalation begins and end when it ends. In this way your intonations should be virtually continuous, not with long breaks between them. That is: OommOommOommOomm, or Oomm-Oomm-Oomm-Oomm, rather than Oomm…Oomm…Oomm…Oomm. Here, too, approximately continuous is sufficient.
6) For the rest of your meditation time keep on intoning Om in this manner–in time with the breath–listening to your inner intonations of Om. This enables you to enter effortlessly into the Witness Consciousness that is your finite spirit within the Infinite Spirit that is God.
“Amazingly Om can become a silent sound.”
7) In time your inner mental intonations of Om may change to a more mellow or softer form, even to an inner whispering, but Om is always fully present and effective. Your intonations may even become silent, like a soundless “mouthing” of Om, yet you will still be intoning Om in your intention. Amazingly Om can become a silent sound, as you can experience for yourself. But of this be sure: Om never ceases. Never. You may find that your intonations of Om move back and forth from more objective to more subtle and back to more objective. Just intone in the manner that is natural at the moment.
In the same way you will find that your breath will also become more subtle and refined, and slow down. Sometimes your breath can become so light that it almost seems as though you are not breathing at all. At such times you may perceive that your inhaling and exhaling are more like a magnetic pull in and out instead of actual breath movements. This occurs as the prana that produces the breath switches back and forth in polarity from positive to negative.
9) In Om Yoga we do not deliberately concentrate on any particular point of the body such as the “third eye,” as we want the subtle energies of Om to be free to manifest themselves as is best at the moment. However, as you meditate, you may become aware of one or more areas of your brain or body at different times. This is all right when they come and go spontaneously, but keep centered on your intonations of Om.
10) Thoughts, impressions, memories, inner sensations, and suchlike may also arise during meditation. Be calmly aware of all these things in a detached and objective manner, but keep your attention centered in your intonations of Om in time with your breath. Do not let your attention become centered on or caught up in any inner or outer phenomena. Om can also produce peace, awareness and quiet joy in your mind as well as soothing radiations of energy in the physical and subtle bodies. Be calmly aware of all these things in a detached and objective manner–they are part of the transforming work of Om, and are perfectly all right–but keep your attention centered in your intonations of Om in time with your breath. Even though something feels very right or good when it occurs, it should not be forced or hung on to. The sum and substance of it all is this: It is not the experience we are after, but the effect.
11) If you find yourself getting restless, distracted, “fuzzy,” anxious or tense in any degree, just take a deep breath and let it out fully, feeling that you are releasing and breathing out all tensions, and continue as before.
12) Remember: Om Yoga meditation basically consists of three things: a) sitting with the eyes turned up and then closed; b) being aware of our breath as it moves in and out, and c) mentally intoning Om in time with the breathing and listening to those mental intonations–all in a relaxed and easeful manner, without strain.
13) At the end of your meditation time, keep on intoning Om in time with your breath as you go about your various activities. Since you cannot keep your eyes turned up outside meditation, as much as is possible or practical try to keep a general awareness of the “thousand-petalled lotus” of the brain all the time, feeling that the breath and Om are taking place there. In this way you can keep “near” the Chidakasha state you experience in meditation.
|Posted by Yogendra Nath Yogi on May 16, 2011 at 7:40 AM||comments (0)|
Simple and easy
“Om Yoga is also that simple and easy because it goes directly to the root of our bondage.”
Can it be that simple and easy? Yes, it can, and is. Suppose some people who have always lived in tents entered a house and came upon a locked door. Knowing nothing of doors, locks, and keys, how would they open it? They might throw themselves against it, beat on it with their fists or heavy objects such as sledgehammers or even some kind of battering ram. If someone approached them with a tiny key they could easily snap in two and told them it would open the door, they would laugh at him. But he would simply insert the key, turn it, and enter. It would be that simple and that easy. Om Yoga is also that simple and easy because it goes directly to the root of our bondage which is a single (and therefore simple) thing: loss of awareness.
Now let us look at the various components of our Om Yoga practice so we can understand it fully.
We sit upright for two reasons. First, so we will not fall asleep. Second, to facilitate the upward movement of the subtle life force called prana.
It is important that our meditation posture be comfortable and easy to maintain. Yoga Sutra 2:46 says: “Posture [asana] should be steady and comfortable.” The Yoga Vashishtha (6:1:128) simply says: “He should sit on a soft seat in a comfortable posture conducive to equilibrium.” Shankara comments: “Let him practice a posture in which, when established, his mind and limbs will become steady, and which does not cause pain.” Here relaxation is the key. Though sitting upright, be sure you are always relaxed, for Yoga Sutra 2:47 says: “Posture is mastered by relaxation.”
There are several cross-legged postures recommended for meditation. They are the Lotus, Perfect, Auspicious, and Easy Postures, or: Padmasana, Siddhasana, Swastikasana, and Sukhasana. You will find them described in books on Hatha Yoga postures. I especially recommend Yoga Asanas by Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Society, as it is written from the perspective of spiritual development and also gives many hints to help those who are taking up meditation later in life and whose bodies need special training or compensation.
If you can sit in a cross-legged position without your legs going to sleep and making you have to shift them frequently, that is very good. Some yogis prefer to sit on the floor using a pillow. This, too, is fine if your legs do not go to sleep and distract you. But meditation done in a chair is equally as good. Better to sit at ease in a chair and be inwardly aware than to sit cross-legged and be mostly aware of your poor, protesting legs.
If you use a chair, it will be good if it can be used only for meditation. (The same applies to a pillow, pad, or mat used for cross-legged meditation.) This will pick up the beneficial vibrations of your meditation, and when you sit on it your mind will become calm and your meditation easier. If you cannot devote a chair to your meditation, find some kind of cloth or throw that you can put over the chair when you meditate and remove when you are done. (Some people like also using a special shawl or meditation clothing or a robe when meditating.)
If you have any back difficulties, make compensation for them, and do not mind if you cannot sit fully upright. We work with what we have, the whole idea being to sit comfortably and at ease.
There is no objection to your back touching the back of the chair, either, as long as your spine will be straight. To hold your back in tension is a distraction. If you can easily sit upright without any support and prefer to do so, that is all right, too.
Put your hands on your thighs, your knees, or in your lap: joined, separated, one over the other–whatever you prefer. The palms can be turned up or down. Really it does not matter how you place or position your hands, just as long as they are comfortable and you can forget about them. There is no need to bother with “mudras” as they are irrelevant to Om Yoga practice.
Hold your head so the chin is parallel to the ground or, as Shankara directs, “the chin should be held a fist’s breadth away from the chest.” Make a fist, hold it against your neck, and let your chin rest on your curled-together thumb and forefinger. You need not be painfully exact, about this. The idea is to hold your head at such an angle that it will not fall forward when you relax. Otherwise you will be afflicted with what meditators call “the bobs”–the upper body continually falling forward during meditation.
Meditation is not a military exercise, so we need not be hard on ourselves about not moving in meditation. It is only natural for our muscles to sometimes get stiff or for some discomfort to develop. Go right ahead and move a bit to get rid of the discomfort.
Some yogis prefer facing east or north to meditate, but it has been my experience that in Om Yoga it simply does not matter what direction you face. Yet, you might want to experiment on your own.
Relaxation is the key to successful meditation just as is ease and simplicity. When we are relaxed the subtle life energies become freed to flow upward, as already mentioned. We also need to be relaxed in both body and mind to eliminate the distracting thoughts and impressions that arise mostly from tension.
“When restlessness or distractions occur, take a deep breath through your nose, let it out, relax, and keep on meditating.”
It is only natural that you will find your mind moving up and down–or in and out–during the practice of meditation, sometimes being calm and sometimes being restless. Do not mind this at all; it is in the nature of things. At such times you must consciously become even more calm, relaxed, and aware–“lighten up” in the most literal sense. As already said, when restlessness or distractions occur, take a deep breath through your nose, let it out, relax, and keep on meditating.
It is also natural when we begin turning our awareness inward that we will encounter thoughts, memories, various emotions, feelings, mental states, and other kinds of experiences such as lights, sensations of lightness and heaviness, of expansion, of peace and joy, visual images (waking dreams), and such like. None of these should be either accepted or rejected. Instead we should calmly continue our intonations of Om. The inner sound of Om and the states of consciousness It produces are the only things that matter, for they alone bring us to the Goal. We should never become caught up in the various phenomena, however amazing, entertaining, pleasant (or how inane, boring, and unpleasant) they may be, and be distracted from meditation. Experiences must not be held on to, nor should they be pushed away, either. Instead we should be quietly aware of them and keep on with meditation so in time we can pass far beyond such things. This is relaxation in attitude.
Never try to make one meditation period be like one before it. Each session of meditation is different, even though it will have elements or experiences in common with other sessions.
Do not be unhappy with yourself if in meditation it seems you are just floating on the top rather than “going deep.” That is what you need at the moment. Keep on; everything is all right. Remember: Om is not just intelligent, It is Divine Intelligence, and whatever is best for you to experience is what It will produce, either late or soon–but always at the perfect time.
It is important in meditation to be relaxed, natural, and spontaneous–to neither desire or try to make the meditation go in a certain direction or to try to keep it from going in a particular direction. To relax and be quietly observant is the key for the correct practice of meditation.
Yet, correct meditation practice is never passive or mentally inert. At all times you are consciously and intentionally intoning Om. It should be easeful and relaxed, but still intentional, even when your intonations become more gentle and subtle, even whisperlike or virtually silent.
Closed mouth and eyes
Breathing through the mouth agitates the mind, so keeping your mouth closed and breathing only through the nose has a calming effect. So also does closing your eyes, for by closing your eyes you remove visual distractions and eliminate over seventy-five percent of the usual brain wave activity
|Posted by Yogendra Nath Yogi on May 16, 2011 at 7:39 AM||comments (1)|
But there is more regarding the eyes. The eyes have a definite esoteric effect on the mind and its subtle energies as well as the polarization of those energies. When the eyes are turned down, they lead into subconscious experiences, especially when they are closed, and even into the sleep state. When the eyes are held straight ahead, they keep us alert and aware of our surroundings, even if the eyes are closed, and confine our awareness to the ordinary conscious state. When the eyes are turned up, they begin transferring our awareness into the levels of superconsciousness. For when the eyes are turned up, the thousand-petalled lotus of the brain, the Sahasrara, begins to open and become active.
The position of the eyes cause one of the three gunas–tamas, rajas, and sattwa–to predominate in our consciousness. When the eyes are turned down, tamas–subconsciousness–prevails. When the eyes are turned directly forward, rajas–waking consciousness–prevails. When the eyes are turned up, sattwa–superconsciousness–prevails.
Meditating with upturned eyes causes the subtle mental energies that pervade the body to begin moving upward into the higher centers of perception in the brain and its astral and causal counterparts. This is why in the Bhagavad Gita (5:27) Krishna speaks of the yogi “shutting out external contacts and fixing the gaze inside [within] the eyebrows.” This is usually translated “between the eyebrows”–at the so-called “third eye”–but antare bhruvoh can only mean “inside the eyebrows.” This can also legitimately be translated: “fixing the ‘seeing’ inside the eyebrows,” the idea being that at times during meditation the inner “gaze”–in the sense of awareness–becomes focused on or centered in the front of the forehead behind the eyebrows or as though looking upward through the eyebrows. You will find that this happens quite naturally when you turn your eyes upward and close them. Another verse speaks of how “at the time of death, with unshaken mind, endowed with devotion and by the power of Yoga, fixing the whole life-breath in the middle of the two eyebrows [bhruvor madhya pranam aveshya samyak], he reaches that resplendent Supreme Person.” (Bhagavad Gita 8:10) A more literal translation is: “having united the prana in the middle of the two eyebrows.” This, too, is a spontaneous phenomenon. Remember that the word in the text is prana, which also means the breath. You will find that on occasion you may even experience that the subtle breath is taking place within the area of the eyebrows or the forehead.
In the sixth chapter, verse thirteen, he says that the yogi should sit with upturned eyes, “as though gazing at the origin of his nose”–swam nasikagram samprekshya–the eyebrow level of the forehead. The purpose of this is not to concentrate on “the third eye” as is usually thought, and certainly not to make ourselves cross-eyed, but because when we lift our gaze gently upward toward the eyebrow level as though looking at a point far distant (it may help to think of looking upward into the sky), it will cause our awareness as well as our subtle life energies to begin moving upward to higher levels of consciousness.
We must be very sure that this is done without any strain. Nor should the eyes be crossed to any degree.
A final word on the subject: Even though our upturned eyes are an important element in our meditation practice, once we do turn them up we should forget all about them and become centered in the awareness of our intonations of Om in time with our breath.
Not placing the awareness on the body
Brahman being formless, so also is our meditation. And since Brahman is everywhere, we do not put our mind on any particular place or point in the body. Putting our attention on any point of the body induces body awareness, confines and limits the effects of our meditation, and divides our attention which should be on the subtle sound of our Om intonations. Rather, we fix our attention on Om which is both our individual spirit (jivatman) and the Supreme Spirit (Paramatman). At the same time, Om is at the core of every cell, of every particle of every atom in our body, so every intonation of Om vibrates throughout the entire body, as well as the astral and causal bodies.
Sometimes during meditation you may spontaneously become more aware of some point or area of the body, and that is all right, but keep the focus of your attention on the breath and your intonations of Om, letting whatever happens, happen.
“Sound–mental sound–is the beginning, middle, and end of our meditation practice.”
Sound is the basis of all that “is.” Sound is the way to the realization of the All That Is, including our true self and the Supreme Self, God. “By sound one becomes liberated [Anavrittih shabdai].” (Brahma Sutras 4.4.22) Sound is Consciousness itself. Sound–mental sound–is the beginning, middle, and end of our meditation practice. Consequently, listening to and experiencing the effects of our inner intonations of Om is the heart of our meditation practice.
American studies in business psychology have uncovered a most interesting fact: people can detect falsehood much more easily if they are only listening to a speaker and not seeing him. This is because sound stimulates the etheric bodies which reflect the light of the spirit, the wisdom faculty in man. Knowing this many thousands of years ago, the Vedic yogi-seers instructed their students to meditate on sound alone, for from sound arises knowledge (jnana), including self-knowledge.
|Posted by Yogendra Nath Yogi on May 16, 2011 at 7:38 AM||comments (0)|
The entire realm of manifestation is really nothing more than an infinite variety of sound, variations of a single Sound that is the origin and ending of all other sounds. That Sound is Om, the basic resonant frequency of the entire field of existence: “Verily, the Syllable Om is all this, yea, the Syllable Om is all this” (Chandogya Upanishad 2.23.3). “Om: this Syllable is all this” (Mandukya Upanishad 1.8.12).
It is the keynote of the consciousness that is our true self: “The Self [atman] is of the nature of the Syllable Om. Thus the Syllable Om is the very Self. He who knows It thus enters the Self [Supreme Spirit] with his self [individual spirit]” (Mandukya Upanishad 1.8.12). “Meditate on Om as the Self” (Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.3-6).
And since we and God are one, it is the keynote of Divine Consciousness as well. “Om is Brahman, the Primeval Being” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5.1.1). “That [Om] is the quintessence of the essences, the Supreme, the highest” (Chandogya Upanishad 1.1.3). “Om is the Supreme Brahman” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 1:7). “God is the Syllable Om” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:17). “Om is Brahman” (Taittiriya Upanishad 1.8.1).
Om, then, is the entire focus of our meditation. “One should meditate on this Syllable [Om]” (Chandogya Upanishad 1.1.1). “Meditate on Om as the Self. May you be successful in crossing over to the farther shore of darkness” (Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.6). And since It has no intellectual meaning, Its repetition helps us in getting beyond the chattering mind.
I. K. Taimni has this to say regarding Om, the Pranava: “The first and most effective means which Patanjali prescribed for overcoming the distracted condition of the mind is the japa and meditation of the Pranava. He calls the Pranava the vachaka of Ishwara. What is a vachaka? A vachaka is a name which has a mystic relationship with the vachya–the entity designated–and has inherent in it the power of revealing the consciousness and releasing the power of the individual for whom it stands. Such a vachaka is Om. It is considered to be the most mystical, sacred and powerful mantra by the Hindus because it is the vachaka of Ishwara, the Greatest Power and the Supreme Consciousness.
“It may seem preposterous to the ordinary man not familiar with the inner side of life that a mere syllable can carry hidden within it the potential power which is attributed to it by all yogis, and references to which are found scattered through the sacred scriptures of the Hindus. But facts are facts and they are not at all affected by the ignorance and prejudices of people who disbelieve in them. Who could have believed fifty years ago that a mere neutron moving among a number of uranium atoms could produce an explosion powerful enough to blow up a whole city? Anyone who understands the theory of mantra yoga and the relation of vibration with consciousness should be able to see that there is nothing inherently impossible in the idea of a mystic syllable possessing such a power. Besides, we should remember that the facts of the inner life with which Yoga deals are based upon experience no less than the facts of Science.”
In his commentary on the Yoga Sutras Shankara puts it very simply: “Through Om the Lord is met face to face.” And even further: “When the yogi has understood the identity of Om and Brahman he attracts the grace of the supreme Lord through Its repetition and meditation.” And finally: “Meditation is setting the heart on the Lord Who is designated by Om and brought into the mind by It.”
Now this is very important: When we want to swim in the ocean, we do not dive into a particular wave, but into the ocean itself–though we may pass through a wave. Also, the wave, being only a manifestation on the surface of the ocean must be left behind if we are to sound the depths of the ocean. If we stay with the wave, we will remain as separated as the wave is from the ocean. If we “ride” the wave like a surfer we will find ourselves being thrown onto the shore and out of the ocean. It is the same with meditation on names and forms–whether of “gods” or liberated “masters”–rather than diving down where name and form cannot go. This is the only way to get beyond unreality, darkness, and mortality.
We must meditate on the Self–not on external deities or symbolic forms of psychic states. As Sri Ma Sarada Devi said: “After attaining wisdom one sees that gods and deities are all maya.” (Precepts For Perfection 672.) The upanishads, Gita, and Yoga Sutras know nothing of meditating on “gods” or “ishta devatas”–only on Om, for only Om is our Self. Here are a few upanishadic statements on the subject:
“The Self is of the nature of the Syllable Om. Thus the Syllable Om is the very Self.” (Mandukya Upanishad 1.8.12) “Directly realize the self by meditating on Om.” (Vedantasara Upanishad 1) “Meditate on Om as the Self.” (Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.3-6) “Om is the atman himself.” (Narasingha Uttara-Tapiniya Upanishad) “Om is a single syllable that is of the nature of the Self.…Om is the true form of the Self.” (Tarasara Upanishad) Om is expanding outward in waves from the core of the cosmos. The same is happening with us. From our atma Om is being impulsed outward. By coming into alignment/synchronicity with the atmic impulse through the intonations of Om, we can return to our true state of being.
We mentally intone Om in japa and meditation, “singing” it on a single note, because this unifies the mind and enables our awareness to turn inward steadily and surely. Further, intoning the sound makes it easier to be aware of and to hold on to.
Once more: Be sure in your intonations to give equal value to the O and the M, letting them resonate inwardly–Oooommmm, not Oooooomm or Oommmmmm. Again, you need not be painfully exacting about this–just make sure the O and the M are approximately equal. Also, it is good if the intonations of Om are virtually continuous, not with long breaks between them: OommOommOommOomm, or Oomm-Oomm-Oomm-Oomm rather than Oomm…Oomm…Oomm…Oomm.
As we go deeper in meditation our perceptions of the inner sound of our mental intonations of Om become increasingly subtle. At first they may be more like ordinary sung speech, but they will progress to become more and more soft until they become a kind of “whispering” and in time can be actually silent–a kind of silent movement–very much like when we silently mouth words instead of speaking them aloud.
When we intone in a most subtle, virtually whispered, or silent, way we still think of Om as being intoned, and mentally intend to intone, even if we do not inwardly hear or sense the difference. And our intonations, however subtle, should never be weak or tenuous.
It is important to let your intonations of Om change as they will. They may naturally and spontaneously move back and forth from more objective to more subtle and back to more objective.
|Posted by Yogendra Nath Yogi on May 16, 2011 at 7:37 AM||comments (0)|
“The breath is a dominant factor on all the planes of existence.”
The breath is a dominant factor on all the planes of existence. It is necessary for the vitalization and functioning of all vehicles of consciousness, physical or superphysical. It combines in itself in some mysterious manner the essential qualities of both energy and consciousness and is thus able to serve as an instrument for their actions and reactions on each other.
The purpose of being aware of the physical breath is to enable you to become aware of “the breath of the breath,” the inner movement of consciousness that manifests as the physical breath.
The more attention we give to the breath, the subtler it becomes until it reveals itself as an act of the mind, not the body, and finally as consisting of mind-stuff itself. The breath, like an onion, has many layers. In the practice of Om Yoga meditation we experience these layers, beginning with the most objective, physical layer and progressing to increasingly subtle layers that are rooted in pure being.
Since it is natural for the breath to become increasingly refined as you observe it, you need not attempt to deliberately make this happen. Your attention and intonations of Om will automatically refine it.
As we become more and more aware of the subtle forms or movements of the inner breaths, it automatically happens that the breath movements on all levels become slower. This is the highest form of pranayama. (See Chapter Four: Breath and Sound in Meditation.)