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Σάββατο, 23 Ιουνίου 2012

Yogasadhanas in the Gita Part Three

Yogasadhanas in the Gita
Part Three
The complete satsang will be presented here in four parts and will be updated fortnightly.

Bhagavad Gita begins with a person in grief and despair who finds it difficult to decide what his dharma is. This difficulty and indecision arises due to attachments and desires which have given birth to grief, dejection and depression. On the other side stands Sri Krishna who sees this person forgetting what his dharma is and falling into a depressive, grief-stricken state of mind and undergoing a nervous breakdown which is affecting his entire personality. Sri Krishna has no other choice but to try to bring Arjuna out of that physical and psychological condition, so he can remember what his dharma is and find the appropriate understanding which will lead him towards success in life.

Sri Krishna is continuously inspiring the warrior Arjuna to become active and involved in the performance of his duties. Again and again Sri Krishna reminds Arjuna to perform his duty with detachment, perfection and creativity, to express and give his best. In the early days when I came to the ashram, this was one of the few instructions that Sri Swamiji gave me. He said, "Niranjan, believe that every day is a new day and that there is always something to learn in that new day. The day that has gone does not come back again. Always be alert to learn whatever you can every day." In this way, Sri Swamiji inspired me to become active mentally, keep the eyes open and awareness expanded to see what new lessons I could learn and imbibe every day. That process continues even today and is one way of understanding involvement in karma.

As Sri Krishna goads Arjuna to perform action he also instructs him to keep actions and attachments separate. Actions and the desire for action or the results of actions have to be kept separate. Do not let anything affect your creative and natural skill and ability to perform. If at any point there is an expectation from the action, for the result and gain or loss, then the mind will become entangled in that action and will reap the consequences of either grief or elation.

In this manner the mind will continue to swing between grief and happiness and this swing of mind will always keep it disturbed, distracted and looking outwards. The more you look out, the more entangled the senses become with the sense objects. The more thesenses are entangled with sense objects, the more desires and attachments will arise. The mind will again be buffeted by the winds of loss and gain and the cycle of grief will start once again. Involve yourself physically, mentally, whole-heartedly in the present moment, in the karma that you are performing, according to time, space, location, environment, and the need of the present moment.

If one is aware of the present karma and tries to do one's best, then that karma will free one from the negative and the binding, conditioning expressions, behaviours and moods of the senses. Senses are both physical and internal; the internal senses are the mental vrittis. Towards the behavior of both physical and internal senses one must cultivate detachment. From one aspect Sri Krishna is constantly inspiring Arjuna to become involved in action, and on the other he is telling and reminding him not to fall in the trap of grief, delusion, dejection and depression but to find mental balance. In order to find mental balance Sri Krishna guides Arjuna into the process of pratyahara.

Stilling the mind
Then Arjuna asks Sri Krishna, "Do you think I can still the nature of my mind by this practice? The nature of mind is always to be dynamic, active and to move from one object of perception and understanding to another. Mind is very dissipated, distracted, and disturbed. If it is not possible to stop the constantly moving wind, how can it be possible to stop the mind?" Sri Krishna answers, "Yes, it is possible."

This ability comes with abhyasa and vairagya. Abhyasa means practice and vairagya means detachment from actions. In the Yoga Sutras, Rishi Patanjali describes abhyasa as constant, continuous practice and effort, which has been sustained over a long period, with faith. Through abhyasa one can attain mastery or perfection of the practice. Sri Krishna has said the same thing; it is possible to manage the upheavals of the mind with practice. Practice means following a system, a sequence of changing the perception and awareness, and observing the physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of human experience.

With abhyasa and vairagya it becomes possible to still the agitations of the mind, just as in a closed room where there is not a whisper of wind, a candle flame burns steady and does not flicker or move. In the same manner, with restraint of the senses, abhyasa, vairagya, and through knowing the effects of attachment in the form of attractions, insecurities and anxieties, one can gradually reduce the movement of mind. Here Sri Krishna also identifies a specific behaviour of the mind, the obsessive passionate behaviour.

Passion denotes a state or condition of mind which hangs on to one thing, one idea, thought or object and begins to revolve around that. If mind begins to think of sensorial pleasure, the need for sensorial pleasure will be highlighted. If the mind thinks of emotional pleasure, the need for emotional pleasure will be highlighted. In this passionate state of mind, one obsession can totally taint and colour the entire area of the mind and change the total human behaviour. That is known as kama, passion.

Passion is not only sensorial, sensual or sexual, it is also emotional, intellectual and spiritual. It is an intensity of desire, intention or thought that is seen in expression and action. Passion resides in the senses, mind and intelligence, and disturbs the pranas of the body. One cannot control the passions, but one can manage the pranas, and through the pranas control the passions. Therefore Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna in the practice of pranayama. To reduce attachment, to reduce mental and sensorial attractions, to overcome insecurities and fears, to manage anxieties and the aggressive character, Sri Krishna teaches the method of pratyahara. To overcome passion which disturbs the energies and forces of body and mind, he teaches pranayama. The basic pranayama is nadi shodhana - which is the simplest and the most intense also. As you increase the length of your respiration, with continued slow and deep breathing, the flows in ida and pingala nadis are balanced.

For many, many months in Rikhia, Sri Swamiji practised only pranayamas for eight hours a day, when he used to perform his austerities. During this time his entire personality changed. With the lengthening and regulation of the incoming and the outgoing breath, the energies of ida and pingala, the prana shakt or vital energy and the chitta shakti or mental energy were balanced. That is the moment when one can become free of all the influences of karmas, and this was the last practice of Sri Swamiji's tapasya. This is an example which confirms what Sri Krishna is intending to achieve with the practice of pranayama.

Next Sri Krishna gives a series of instructions for another higher type of meditation, which is remembrance of the name of God. He explains that the location for practice should be a clean place where there is a feeling of purity. One should place an asana, either made out of grass or skin or cloth, sit down on that asana with firmness of the body, hold the body perfectly still, gaze at the eyebrow centre and with the gaze fixed at the eyebrow centre stop looking at everything else. Fix the mind on the inner self and remember God.

How does one remember God? There are two ways to recognize anything, either by name or by remembering a form. If you have to think of somebody the form will come in front of your eyes, if you have to think or speak of somebody their name will come to the tip of the tongue. Any manifest thing is always identified by name and form. The name of God is the mantra. By remembering and repeating the mantra or by focusing the mind on the image of the ishta devata which appears in front of the eyes of the mind, one cultivates an awareness of the higher self.

These are the two common practices of meditation, mantra meditation and symbol meditation. While chanting the mantra try to focus on the symbol or image, so the mind is fixed at two dimensions - at the visual level, it is seeing the image, and at thought level it is repeating the mantra. At the sensorial level the mind is seeing the image and at the mental level it is repeating the mantra. In this manner, Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna into the mantra sadhana.

Now Arjuna asks, "With all the things that you have told me, many of my doubts are clear. But you keep saying, focus on you, what does this mean? Focus on you as God or as an individual? As God you are impersonal and as an individual you are my friend. Who are you?" Sri Krishna then describes his divine nature. Here the instructions and guidelines on yoga stop, and the description of the divine nature begins and a devotee or jnani begins.

Sri Krishna describes the divine attributes and says, "I am endowed with them and you are also endowed with them. The only difference is that I am aware of them and they are awake within me and you are not aware of them, they are dormant within you. I pervade the entire universe and at the same time I am confined to this body as your friend." Then Arjuna says, "Okay, I believe that you are contained in the entire universe, can you show me your universal form?"

Then through shaktipat, Sri Krishna enables Arjuna to see his universal form and Arjuna is rendered speechless. He sees all the galaxies, the multiverses, all the stars, suns, moons, planets, everything contained in the body of Sri Krishna. He sees life forms of different types - elemental and physical forms, people, animals, and insects - the entire creation in Sri Krishna's body. He sees all the people who are born in the past, all those who are living in the present and all who will be born in the future. With this transcendental experience, Arjuna goes into a complete stupor and he says to Sri Krishna, "I'm frightened, I'm afraid of your universal form, come back to your human form, the form with which I identify all the time as my friend."
Paramhansa Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati
The complete satsang will be presented here in four partsmore:

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