Category Archives: e. (Accounts)

SWAMI BAWRA SPEAKING ABOUT YOGA … continued…

This transcript continues from Blog entry below. This will be edited and checked.

This mountain is a very old mountain.  ……..  

And there is [sounds like ? satipeaka].  So many yogis are living here my boy, he told, and you are very lucky you saw one Yogi. Okay. And people were (6.51) telling before that there is one person. Sometimes he can out and his feet is very tall and two persons can put their feet and then they will be the same and he is very tall person maybe more than seven feet.  But I was not, you know, believing.  I was hearing about such kind of yogi.  I have seen, you know, in my life. (7.10) So my boy there is so many Yogis, and such Yogis are Master of Hatha Yoga. They can make their body, they can change their body, you know, and there was one Yogi and I met him.  He was very great yogi too.  And he was doing so many kinds of, you know, extraordinary work.  (7.38) You can’t imagine how he was living and how he was [SL thinking].  He told me, ‘I can sit in this position six months, not only one and two, he told me …… sixteen hours …… great yogi I can sit six months, can you sit with me and I told, ‘No I can’t!’

His name was [SL Vishvadan]. [?] He told, ‘You were sitting only sixteen hours and you were thinking they were great yogi.  Oh my boy you are child.’  (8.04m) Okay now you are [SL develop] (8.08m) you are not a yogi.  Don’t be proud.’ He told.  Don’t be proud.  You are sitting only sixteen hours and you are thinking you have become great yogi. You know. Can you sit with me. Master. He told, ‘I was sitting six months’ he told [in] that posture. ‘I was sitting six months in this posture. [he said], ‘Can you sit?’

‘No sir.  I can’t.’

He was saint. His name was [SL Vishvadan]. He was a great yogi.

So there are so many yogis in India still now.  Luckily anybody see them.  It is not possible to see them. Okay. It is very hard to see them.  Luckily any time if by their own grace only you can see.  So this is a great sphere, Hatha Yoga. Has great meaning my dear and other is, you now, Kriya Yoga. And Kriya Yoga has three aspects, Penance.  [Sancrit verse: (9.12)Sa batswa sya…] Penance. Do penance. Control your senses through penance. Austerity.  That has great place in that process. They are not doing religious [?]. They are not doing other things.  They are only doing austerity. Penance. Controlling their food. Okay. Controlling their food they are taking only fruit, either they are taking only milk and taking only fruit, you know, once a day.  So many yogis they are living on water only. Okay. (9.43m) I have seen one yogi and she was, a woman, not only one and two day my boy, forty five years without taking water and without taking food. Forty five years. She was. Okay. (10.05m) And she climbed mountain with me sixteen thousand, you know, [feet] height. She visited with me to [amanata] and she climbed [SL ? sheshanaga] height sixteen thousand.  And she was [satima]. She left her body just, just, so many, four five years, before, ago. She left.  She didn’t take water and she doesn’t take food and she was walking , she was talking, she was teaching people. Okay. 

And you will be surprised in Jaypur there is a medical institution.  There was a doctor, principle of that institution.  His name was Doctor Sharma and he requested her Mother I want to examine you.  (10.55)

She smiled, “Oh my boy.  What will you do?”

“I want to test Mother how you are living without food without, you know.  This is against our, you know, science. …And now we know science can prove it.”

“Okay then you can examine my boy.  I don’t know how I am living without this.”

And she came; he came, that …. woman two months, and he was searching and in the end he declared that she has no stomach in her body.  There is no belly; here is no intestine; all was dried, you know, shrink so she has no place to put anything. You know. Lower than her throat. No anything – he told. He declared.  He name was Satima.  She died just. Left her body. Okay. So my dears there are so many …. (12.03m) and I asked mother, how it happened.

“Oh don’t ask about it! Only this is the grace of divine Lord Rama.  I am chanting only Rama, Rama, nothing else.”  She told me. 

I was fifteen days with her – okay. And she told me, “My boy. My child, I am only reciting Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama can do everything. Okay. If you repeat this word then you will be a great yogi too.” She told me.  It was 63, 1963, I was with her.  So there are so many yogis. There are Kriya Yogis and there are Hatha Yogis too in India – many kinds of yogis.  Whatever processes are continuing in our country you will find a great yogi, great master of those yogas. Okay. Hatha yoga, Kriya Yogas, … Yogas, Raj Yogas, Gyan Yogas.  So many yogis you will find.  Okay. But you can’t find them in a city. You can’t find them where there is path, you know, sign board. ‘A great yogis live here.’ They never put sign board there. Okay.  You can’t find them there.  There are only business men. Okay.  They laugh always.  They think they are only business men. They become yogi. Okay. They are only propagating. They don’t know about what yoga is.  There are so many people. They [real yogis] laugh.  And in Himalaya, that is the abode of yogis.  There is no doubt. Still you will find many yogis are living there. Okay.  In Gangaltri.  I visited Gangaltri once. [Source of the Ganges] 1962 I was, you know, visiting in the Himalaya and I saw there. There was one yogi without cloth, without loin cloth too. He was living naked. In that place. Okay. And you will be surprised and sometimes more than twenty feet [of] snow fall there; more than twenty feet. That is, you know, (14.20) glacier. And he was living there without any clothes; without anything.  He was enjoying his life.  His name was Swami Ramanada.

 Okay. And another yogi was living with him in other place.  Near to him.  His name was Swami Krishnananda.  And Swami Krishnananda was, you know, that person who founded; put foundation of Hindu university. You Know, In Varanasi (Benares).  That was Swami Krishnananda.  And he was Guru of M…. And he was great yogi too.  He lived there naked, naked without anything and I enter in his room and I felt that this is heaven. You know there can’t be other heaven [than] this place. And there was nothing, no clothes nothing. Only grass.  They put some grass and grass was very, very fine and very, you know, good smell too. You know.  You can see that there is only, what you say, that scent is everywhere but not scent. There was grass and he was, you know, living on that, sitting on that sleeping on that, living in that room.  So there are so many yogis now also my dear. But, you know, that is ah, you know, err, that is very bad. Swami Ramanada and Swami Krishnananda they left their body now. Living yogi in India and living lovely men. So great people.  So great person. So Many and five great saints died, you know left their body last year. Last year.  Five. There was [Yoya]baba one among those. Okay. And Brahmdev and Brahmacharya and so many and five left last year. And five years ago five great yogis left their bodies too. Okay. So my boy I was telling that in India there is many kinds of method and Lord stated here, that he who is eager to achieve highest level of consciousness, he wish to attain up to his own destination. (16.38) He must adopt some process. [Sanscit text. A……yoga.]  Only Muni (sage).  Muni means desire-less person.  Muni means, a great thinker. A great desire less person can only sublime up to highest level of consciousness. But he who want to sublime up to that level of consciousness, he must adopt some process. [Sanscit text. A…….](17.08) [Perception] is the cause. [Means.  Cause is means.] [Sanscit text. A…….] But when he sublime that highest state is reached, then [Sanscit text. Yoga…….](17.20) Then sign of yoga hood, being a great yogi, is saman [quiet, calm, resigned] serenity. Serenity is the sign of a great yogi.  How one can believe that he is yogi now? If serenity is in his mind; tranquillity is in his mind. If his mind is tranquil [saying] then you can think he is yogi. Yoga …. means (17.55) He become, you know, he become [iyuda] he become [separate], He become [separate] himself into yoga and highest level of consciousness. (18.01m) It is a sign. Serenity is the sign. A sublime person. So [Sanscit text. Yoga…….] He state.  But before being yoga[hood].  Okay? He who has not established himself in the highest level of consciousness.  He must try to adopt some method.  If you will adopt some method and you will continue today.  And Lord has stated don’t be, you know, don’t be frustrated because not today but tomorrow, if you are adopting one path. Okay?  And you are walking on that; not today but tomorrow you will reach there. In the end in {chapter 6 in the [Bagavad] Gita Lord stated “Not in one day.” [Sanscit text. Bahuna  …….] (18.53) okay, [Sanscit text. San  …….]  Slowly, slowly you will develop your level of consciousness.  Don’t think that in one day you will be a great yogi. No!  And don’t think that in one life you will be a great yogi too.

There was a great yogi.  One day he went for alms.  In India, mostly yogis are living on the alms.  Asking alms and living.  I spent twelve years on alms.  I was getting one chapatti

from one house. I was begging and living on the alms. Twelve years.  Not only one and two.  From [48] 58 to 70. Okay. And I left that begging when I came in London in 1972. Okay?  So I was living on alms to.  Getting one chapatti from one house.  So in India mostly yogis were doing it.  So one yogi was one man.  He reached.  There was a householder woman.  And she was very apt and very wise too.  When she saw him, young boy came for alms and she asked, “Oh you came very early my boy.  You came very early.”  You know. [SL What his name …] You came very early – it means: “Very young lad. You become yogi.”

And he replied, “My Mother.  My journey was stated not today but yesterday. Okay.  I started my journey not to today but yesterday.”

Yesterday means in my past life I did that. Okay. This is my own experience my boy so many kinds of yoga activities. I come in my life without learning, without learning.  From any person.  Many, you know, exercise of yoga and very subtle exercise came in my life without learning. Why?  And I was stunned then my master told, “Why you are worried about it? These are all activities you did in past life. (21.20) Okay? And that appeared automatically. You did […..] Lord stated in sixth chapter that when a yogi leaves this body then go and live in divine sphere some years and after that take birth in holy families and after that all sanscaras, all activities, whatever he did in past life appear in this life automatically and he start his journey again. Okay. So not in this life. Whatever you are doing today you don’t think that will vanish. No. That will live with you and tomorrow when you will get another birth and you achieve all impressions in your life without any effort. And you journey will start again.  And one day in this process. One day. [Sanscit text.    …….] Lord has stated. ‘Not only by one birth.’ [Sanscit text.    …….] because Hindu believe [in river] Why? Because we believe in evolution of life. And complete evolution will take place when you will achieve Godhood in your life. (22.33) Okay? So unless you are achieving Godhood your journey will continue. Be aware. And one day will come in your life when you’ll achieve that.  So don’t be frustrated.  Try to adopt one path and continue and tread on that divine path.  And one day you will reach your destination.  There is no doubt. Lord stated it.  [Sanscit text.   So …….Yoga…] this is a sign. Okay? First it Kama mean – Means. And some particular process become means for achieving highest level of consciousness.  When a person established himself into higher level of consciousness then some […..ity] become sign. (23.28)  That now he achieved.  Automatically all [SL .exem?] leave. (23.34) And he become calm and quiet and serene. And without any effort he live in higher level of consciousness.  That serenity become sign of being a yogi.  That state is called yogi. Okay?

And next stated in Sloka.  Lord stated, what is the sign of yogi? How I can declare.  How I can know now I become a yogi really? Okay? And how I can declare others that now he become yogi, really.  Lord stated.  I will tell other sloka. That fouth sloka. Okay?

[The Sanscit Prayer indicates the end of this talk by Swami Bawra.  

Om Aum Bhuh Bhuvah Svah, Tat Savitur Varenyam, Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi, Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat.]

(MUSIC) To hear Gayatri Mantra sung Click the link below.

Existence – Gayatri Mantra

(Letter) on Spiritual Experiences.

Dear E….

I added the Ramana Maharshi Quote and our discussion to my blog and thought I would send you the link because the distinction offered by Ramana is an important one.  Jnani is the path of Knowledge by which false understanding (ignorance) is stripped away. It asks ‘Who am I?’ As distinct from Bhakti which is the path of Devotion.  Our leaning toward one or the other is a predisposition in our Nature.

http://www.gaiatechuk.com/wordpress/?p=1431

There are a handful of jewels that illuminate the path to emancipation beyond which nothing else is required.  We come with all the tools necessary to realise enlightenment.  A single idea defines the Nature of Reality.  ‘We are Consciousness’ .  That’s it.  That is the mystery.  But the realisation of the profound depth of this simple statement requires an inner condition, [Or you can say an inner stance – a way of being internally] or it cannot be a stable experience.

Ramana 02

The most important thing to understand is that there is nothing to gain.  There is nowhere to go.  The path is only a process of removing obstacles to the realisation of that Truth.  By being a conscious being you are a channel for consciousness, Now, Now, Now.  It is there always in its absolute perfection at your heart (centre of your being).  All that is required for us to experience it is the sweep away Ego/Mind.   Ego/Mind is like a forest that stands between us and the rising sun.  There is no problem with the sun.  Only the presence of the forest blocks our view.  This understanding is a Jnani concept.  Two ways fell the forest – insight (knowledge) and devotion (complete surrender to God or Self.  And by this I do not mean the God of speculation that is a mental construct).

The result of rendering Ego/Mind silent is the experience of Bliss – a property of Consciousness.  It is ‘that peace that surpasses all understanding [1]about which all sages speak and which fuels what often becomes an Ego driven craving for emancipation particularly when emancipation is seen as a panacea for mental turmoil.  That Sublime Peace is always present but drowned out by Mind.  If encountered a devotional person will likely experience this Bliss as a love for God.  We can be an atheist (rejecting of a notion of God) or a believer (accepting of a notion of God) it makes no difference because both these are attached to the Ego/Mind and not Reality. When bliss manifests in experience, concepts are irrelevant.

Many people accidentally experience a Bliss State.  History is awash with them and profound as it appears at the time this is not the stable state enjoyed by Seers because Enlightenment is a dynamic not a passive state requiring the penetrative insight that prevails in Satwic Mind (a state of harmony, balance, joy & insightful wisdom).  It can be fleeting or last for hours or even days, but in the absence of any fine understanding or guidance the individual will usually becomes mentally unstable by trying to cling to the experience and all too often will be diagnosed as delusional or even psychotic.  This premature experience is not one to invite without access to a wise teacher.  If it happens then understanding its nature and cause is everything.

In 1988 I ran a meditation course in Surrey.  Nineteen people enrolled.  Before I started the first session I asked how many people were there because they had had what they would term a Spiritual Experience.  All but two or three hands were raised.  In those days I was nowhere near a reasoned explanation.

The clue as to why it happens, unbidden, lies in our devotional nature. And this is also the key as to why it is usually intentionally unrepeatable.  Many people who have ‘enlightenment’ experiences spend years trying to repeat what they think they did or make the experience mean something when it means nothing – except to reveal only that we are Consciousness.  Actually it was what they did not do that made it occur.

Essentially one is surrendering without realising it.  In a moment of ‘Grace’ (you can say) ones Ego is set to one side and The Self, Consciousness, God is momentarily revealed. Hence Ramana Maharshi said;

“The moment when ego is completely surrendered, the Self shines”

It is the Ego that wishes to repeat the experience.   It will fade as soon as the Ego asserts itself again – as my experience.  Quite often the experience is accompanied with tears of joy, and a feeling of complete devotion to God. The experience of the Self is beyond description and life changing.  In such moments there is no desire.  One is completely fulfilled – immersed in unconditional love.

But ultimately devotion is not enough.  Anything suppressed can reassert itself so one has to realise the true nature of the Self and remove all impressions (Sanscaras) to be a completely free Soul.

<[1] “… And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” Philippians 4:4-7 (English Standard Version)

(Precious Moments) on EGO

One day some years ago I and an English friend were standing in the Southall Ashram with Swami Ji and were looking out into the street.  It was a hot dusty summer’s day.  Bits of rubbish were lying around and the street appeared generally untidy. 

My friend observed judgementally, “It’s so polluted Swami Ji.”

“No my boy, not polluted!” Swami Ji said.

My friend objected but somehow I got the impression that my teacher was not referring to the polluted street at all but then nothing more was said.

It took me many years to understand what Swami Ji was actually saying in that moment.  My friend was not merely observing the state of the street.  He was making a value judgement and value judgements are generated by Ego/Mind. They are relative and therefore not true – they are simply relative.  Since Mind is the issue in Spiritual Practice, value judgements are counter-productive and simply affirm the illusion and where we a stuck.

During those times with Swami Bawra I would sometimes stray into Egocentric territory.  If ever I did his reaction was immediate and quite stern.  Sometime he would just look and I understood that I had made a mistake.  One time I took hold of his foot and in a gesture of affection, and shook it – not hard but in a way that could have been construed as disrespectful – enough for him to feel it at least.  He looked at me sharply and then immediately softened.  He saw no disrespect and so the moment passed but even this taught me something.  His dance was not with me.  It was with my Ego.  In retrospect he could have been harsher but that was not how he dealt with me and would I have understood?  But then he never gave too much away.  His way was to let us stumble and learn by our mistakes.

(Article) SPIRITUAL PSYCHOSIS & ALTERED STATES.

Many years ago now I ran the Guildford TM Centre with my then partner.  One day the centre taught a lovely gentle woman who turned up in all innocence to learn meditation.  From the outset of learning she started to see angels and divine beings and in the absence of any reasoned explanation it troubled her deeply. There was nothing we could say because the very notion of the Super Senses was of another order entirely. She came for counselling on several occasions but in the absence of any proper guidance she eventually stopped meditating.  What she experienced was almost certainly the super-sense altered state of sight triggered by starting meditation.

Experiences of altered states are not, however, confined to practitioners of meditation.  They can happen to any one of us and can last for a brief moment or for several weeks.  Many years ago when I ran meditation courses for Surrey Adult Education I first asked people how many were there because they had had what they would describe as a Spiritual Experience.  Most hands would be raised.

During the process of Yoga practice the experience of altered states is a natural, all be it relatively rare, occurrence. The general advice in practice is always that they should be ignored and not spoken about.  The reason being because exploiting the experience runs counter to what one is attempting to do in practicing Yoga – reveal the Self by sublimating the Ego.  This is a process that brings complete stillness to the Mind and not mental chaos that sometimes accompanies altered states.  This advice is therefore sound because ultimately these are stages one wants to pass through not enjoy, (or at least be aware of the consequences of indulgence).  One of these stages is the Transition of the Super Senses in which the ordinary senses are magnified and accompanied by feelings of ecstasy.

When I was taught this aspect of Samkhya I naively assumed on hearing of it that passing through this fire would be a process of simply ignoring these magnified experiences.  I did not realise; could not imagine the effect they might have on my Ego/Mind and its compulsion to exploit and possess any appearance of happiness in the form of Bliss.  Altered states do not come alone.  They are startlingly beautiful and can overwhelm the small self, fundamentally altering the core reality. They change lives and forever.

One quite literally Sees differently for a short while and without guidance it is nearly impossible to navigate this ocean.  The result of being drawn in and trying to possess the experience sets up a cyclic process that is anything but quiet.  It can produce a state of frantic mental activity and as such this should be a warning, particularly if that person suffers unduly from powerful negative emotions such as fear or shame or an ongoing feeling of flat greyness or depression.  Hence it is that psychotic episodes are more prevalent in those who have encountered abuse in their young lives. Add to this an intelligent mind and the condition worsens exponentially.

The experience itself profoundly opens up perception and it is this enhanced perception that appears to support the experience and the Bliss that accompanies it.  Unwittingly one starts to ‘talk it up’ in an attempt to perpetuate the exalted state.  This, (not the initial experience) is ‘Spiritual Psychosis’ and the episode can leave one emotionally devastated.  This is the realm of madness.  Naturally, after a period of sometimes destructive delusional activity, awareness descends back into an ordinary state.  This usually leaves one utterly bereft or in despair; a condition that is familiarly called the Dark Night of The Soul.  We treat people we find in this condition (note not with) as sick when in reality they have just sipped nectar at God’s table before they were prepared and for a while they have been intoxicated.   What they need, however, is guidance not drugs and therapy.

(Thoughts) on DESTINY

I had a conversation with a friend today about destiny.  His father, an astrologer in the Indian system, holds the view that every thing in life is preordained.  That one’s destiny is written in the stars and that there is nothing one can do change it.  Hence there is no reason to try to influence one’s destiny because the outcome is already predetermined.  One can simply lie back and let one’s destiny unfold.  When the astrologer in Canada told me that it was my destiny to live out my life as an ordinary man, (See  A CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH AN INDIAN ASTROLOGER) my teacher, Swami Bawra, was not impressed.  His words to me were, “You can change your destiny my boy.”

This fatalistic and passive approach to the notion of destiny is quite misguided and has had a detrimental effect on Indian culture because it assumes that our destiny need not encompass effort on our part.   That nothing we do can have any impact on the outcome. This notion is given momentum by the assertion by mystics that ‘Satwic Mind does not plan’.  

How we live NOW affects our destiny and each choice we make writes that destiny as does each moment we lie back and surrender to indolence.  It is our destiny to be what ever we will be.  So it is safer to assume that the outcome of our destiny will be what ever we make of it and not leave it to the chance in how the wind blows.  On the basis that I am not the doer I suspect that I will revisit this idea because I suspect that it is not quite that straight forward and I that this is not the whole story…..

(See:  Oracle of India: The Mystery of India’s Naadi Palm Leaf Readers)

(Account) on DESTITUTION

 (To a dear friend) Your fear of finding yourself wandering along the side of the road is not so unusual.  I have visited that fear on a number of occasions in the past.  Fear does that because it is about being powerless or having no control over your destiny.  But you are not powerless.  You can effect incremental changes in your life that will have an impact on that possible outcome. 

 When I was in India I went to Sita’s birthplace at Janakpur.  It was fiercely hot but the temple was beautiful. I remember a wide white pavement as I walked around in my white Kurta (simple pyjama suit) trying to fend off the sun.  An Indian man suddenly appeared out of the crowd and stopped me.  In that familiar way that Indians have he good humouredly interrogated me. “Where are you from?” he asked and, “What is your career?”  and “Where do you live?” I answered his questions and his curiosity satisfied he walked on ahead.  At around 25 yards or so he stopped and called back to me.

“Hey Englishman!”

“Yes.” I answered looking up. 

“Courage and self confidence.” and he turned and was gone.

I was slightly bemused by this encounter but it eventually slipped from my mind.  Weeks passed before our pilgrimage took us back home to Pinjore.  When we arrived we found that a saint had come to visit. He was quiet, gentle unassuming man of 111 years old. Fitter than me and he was walking around India on a pilgrimage.  I was introduced to him but we spoke very little.  Days passed and one morning as I ventured out to visit the large underground hall in which I used to meditate he was waiting for me at the door. 

“Hello.” I said a little quizzically wondering why he was waiting there.  We struck a brief conversation. I asked where he was from and he said that he lived in one of one hundred and eight caves in Nepal.  I asked if he practised yoga and he said that he used to practice and teach yoga but that he stopped when he was sixty almost half his lifetime ago.  I then asked if he taught anything else these days.

He look at me and said, ”Not really.  Only really teach courage and self confidence.”

The coincidence was not lost on me.  Our conversation was brief and now over.  I think he left us the next day.  Mysterious things happen in India and particularly around saints.  If one is receptive they can be a great help.  I did not find it easy to gather my courage or my self confidence in those days especially since I felt that everything I trusted as my personal guide had abandoned me.  But fear IS only mind’s darker aspect and though it is difficult to imagine ever being free from it there is a way to deal with it.  Favour courage and self-confidence.  Let all your choices be the ones that challenge you if only just a little.  You can only end up as a bag lady if your choices in life are the ones that lack courage.  If you constantly take the road that leads to despair then that road will assuredly take you there.  As certainly as the road to God will take you to enlightenment. 

And remember that it is still only your body and your mind and your ego that will be on the roadside weeping.  Your Self will also be there but untainted and still beautiful.  And remember also that wandering mendicants find themselves on the side of the road every morning and the only difference is that they choose it that way.  So it is not about finding or not finding yourself on the side of the road.  It is only about your relationship to fear.  So just look at that sensation and do not let mind expand on it by telling you  stories about destitution.

(Account) of A CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH AN INDIAN ASTROLOGER

In 1986 I was in India studying Samkhya Philosophy with a remarkable teacher.  How I came to be there is another story but after six months immigration law decreed that I had to leave India because my visa had ran out. Since I was not prepared to spend three months in a Nepalese jungle, so that I could return to India for another six months with a renewed visa, as my room-mate Kevin did, I went to Canada, on to Kent, Ohio in America, back to Kitchener and Waterloo in Canada and then back home to the UK.  I was away eleven months in all.

Shortly after I reached Canada I was invited to go to see a friend called Shivdat Talwar.  Shiv is a warm, kind, gentle man, also from India, who was a professor at the local university.  I arrived and a few moments later was shown into the sitting room where  two men, both Indian, were engrossed in conversation.  They stopped and looking up introduced themselves.  One lived permanently in Canada and the other had recently arrived from India on a visit.  I was told that he spoke very little English.  I sensed from him a brooding, arrogant hostility.

 After a moment or two the one who lived in Canada said, “This is my friend from India.  He is a very famous astrologer and he has cast a horoscope for the next person to walk into the room and that’s you.  Do you mind if he reads it to you.”

 “But”, I said, “he knows nothing about me so how can he write my horoscope?”

 “It’s not for you”, he said, “its for this place and this time.”

 “Okay” I said trustingly.

 The man from India picked up a small piece of paper that lay on the table.  On it he had written a simple statement.  He handed it to his friend who proceeded to read it aloud.

“The person to whom this horoscope relates is a renunciate in the wrong garb.  He left worldly life due to pain.  That pain is now passing away.  He will go back into worldly life and live out his days as an ordinary man.’

 I noted that the man from India had distanced himself from being wrong by handing it to the other to read.  The reader looked up at me and asked, “Well, is it right.”

I was shocked.  “It is surprisingly accurate.”  I affirmed to the astrologer.  He had expressed what I had silently acknowledged for some time but was determined to resist.  I turned to the man holding the piece of paper.  “Can he tell me anything else?”

“What ‘ you want to know?”  said the astrologer sharply in perfectly acceptable clipped English.

“Will I get back together with my wife?” I asked earnestly, suspecting that I knew the answer before I had asked the question.

“Why do you still love her after what she did to you.”  The implication was that I was a foolish and infatuated man.  “She is (socially) in her proper place now.” he continued, “Forget about her.”

“If only it were that easy,” I thought.  I fell silent for a moment then ventured, “Will I be married again?”

“I cannot tell’, he said haughtily, “You have been married too many times in this life for me to be able to tell.”  He seemed to draw a certain smug satisfaction from putting me down.

The other man explained and I understood that in India an intimate sexual relationship was a marriage. “Okay,” I said, “but have you any advice?”

“Yes, you should go back to the UK and start your business again.  Can you do that?” I nodded.  “Whatever you put your mind to you will be very successful. But there are two dates that are dangerous for you. On either of these dates you could be married again.”  He read them out and I noted them down.

I was called to go.  “Thank you.” I said putting my hands together, “Namaste.”  As I rose to leave the astrologer handed me the piece of paper, which I later taped into my diary.  I still have it.

He was accurate on all counts even the dates he gave me.  I was, in Indian terms at least, married on both dates.  But this was not the most disturbing thing he said to me that day.  The harshest thing he told me was that I would live out my life as an ordinary man.  I knew what he meant and for two years I struggled with that small piece of information because Seers are not ordinary men. To a man with such soaring ambition his statement felt like a curse that I could try to ignore but which had found its mark!

LOSING MY MIND

(For an overview of this blog please read ‘About’.)

For a short while through 1986 and 1988, in my determination to become a sanyasin, I lived on an Ashram in a place called Virat Nagar near Pinjore in India where I practiced Yoga and studied Samkhya Philosophy.  Yogananda, a practicing yogi who also lived on the Ashram, took it upon himself to try to adjust our (three Americans and myself) everyday, conditioned perception of Reality, into one that stood any chance of seeing Reality as it really is and not simply as it presented.  His method was simple. He would constantly challenge us by asking, (incomprehensibly to me at the time), “Who is the doer? Sit and ask yourself, who is the doer?” and when our social habits complicated our thinking would add, “Be Natural! Just be Natural.”  By this he meant be true to yourself or don’t try to be something you are not because in the end Egocentric flamboyance does not count for much and is counter-productive in any pursuit of real freedom.

Adjustment was a huge fence to jump and it took me many years, and the persistent and inexhaustible patience of my teacher, Swami Vishvatma Bawra, to realise what Yogananda meant by this cryptic statement.  The way we think, is something most of us simply accept from birth as being what it is – a function of the brain or some psychic inner world, that is inseparable from Me.  That the terms I and Me are grammatically distinct but conceptually interchangeable when they can be made to mean something utterly different.  This is not so.  The implication I received from Yogananda’s question was that there was something profound to be gained from resolving this conundrum, but what was he implying?  Is there a realizable, distinction between I and Me that is not merely one for the sake of it – or to put it another way, simply a case of clever and bewildering semantics?

Yogananda was a practiced yogi so his question was not an idle one?  Yoga, is a process that, when performed correctly, produces experiences that profoundly alter our perception.  Yoga is not a religion nor is it ritualistic.  Neither is it a discipline performed from speculative or fanciful ideas – though it often becomes something it is not when exploited by sophisticated societies as a way to keep fit!  It is a process that has two aspects, Practice and Philosophy.  Just as Material Science exploits the subtlest laws of materail existence transforming stardust into technology, Yoga exploits the laws of subtle existence to transform the conduit for Consciousness – us.  In this way Yoga practice deepens insight and insight deepens practice.  The net result of this dynamic process is the revelation of Causal Reality in Experience.  The boons and insights attained through the practice of Yoga are utterly timeless and ones that can be enjoyed in silent isolation, transcending the time-bound march of social change and the trap that is modernity.

All that said, back to Yogananda’s searching question – if I am not the Doer then what is?  The notion that we are not Mind appears at first to be an absurd thing to say.  But in Samkhya, Mind, like our bodies, is defined as being a product of Nature, even though it transcends the physical, (as distinct from nature with a small ‘n’) and as such we can, with a little practice, watch it just as we can watch a sunset.  What then becomes apparent is that Mind is not the Observer, (the witness) but rather, that the observer is something else far quieter and uncluttered that is not mind.

When we touch the world beyond our body, (with any of our senses) intellect will respond  by regenerating an aberration, echoing back what it has experienced in the past.   Ego/Mind is constantly being modified through our interaction with Nature and what we make it mean is determined by intellectual clarity.  If we respond unmindfully to those impressions when they generate dialogue, consciously or unconsciously, they become us and we them, to be swept up in the maelstrom that is thinking (Mind).  In engaging with Mind as if it were real we add to it or fuel it – going round in circles. In Yoga Mind is seen as being a projection of Ego and as such it is endless – a ghost or shadow that persists as long we persist as an individuated sentient being, unless we intervene.

When our identification with Mind becomes chronic we call it insanity and to some degree we are all insane.  The benign state of this insanity is labelled Normal.  Normal is the level of insanity society can live with.  A kind of low grade noise that is not too intrusive and not too painful.  Anything more intense we consider abnormal.  Listening, (observing or witnessing) is the first stage in becoming free and sane.  If we merely observe impressions, and do not engage with them, with time a distance appears between the drama and the observer and the turbulence that is Mind is seen for what it is, shadows of a past inspired by the present.  Merely observed without resistance and without judgement impressions are free to pass naturally.  The one thing we can be certain about is that everything in Nature changes. Ripples in the pond that is Mind die away to be ceaselessly replaced by other ripples.  So long as we resist impressions, consciously or unconsciously, they endure. We resist then when we enter into the dialogue.

Contrary to how it appears Observing is the only true act of Free Will.  Everything else is rooted in Natural cause and effect or the illusion of free will.  Stimulus, response: stimulus, response.  Nothing we decide can be in isolation.  Decisions are always determined by past experience.  Mind will dominate our life so long as we affirm our ingrained lifelong habit and engage with it believing its shadows to be real.  When we cease this automatic response to what we think and feel; observe without imposing ‘this is good and this is bad’, our relationship with Mind radically changes.  Mental content ceases to present as real and becomes just content.  When performed earnestly this process has a profound effect on the quality of our intellect which in turn ‘clarifies’ through this act of observing.  This is an entirely natural process available to us all.  In so doing we move from a state of disintegrated confusion towards clarified integration accompanied by a profound sense of well-being.  We do not necessarily become cleverer or worldlier, we simply become clearer.  Linear logical (clever intelligence) gives way to Insight, (perceiving the whole or intuitive intelligence) more commonly known as Wisdom.  Intelligence should not be judged by its content but rather by its quality and profundity of its perception.  We can know nothing of the world and yet still have a brilliant intellect.  It is a state of perception in which apparently contradictory profound truths can exist at the same time and still be true.  Such a person is in yogic terms, a Seer. Swami Vishvatma Bawra was a Seer.

The past appearing in the present is an echo nothing more.  Echoes die away as long as we do not continue shouting.  (Resisting or engaging with Mind is shouting!  Longing is shouting.)  We shout because it is what we have always done.  We think our Mind defines who we really are but it doesn’t because it is not who we really are.  I am not my past, or what I have learned and do, or what I believe however rational it may sound or appear.  I am only the observer.  What we actually become through this process of disengagement (detachment) is clear vessels filled with joy.  A sensation we all pursue and yet one that cannot be obtained directly through its pursuit.  Personal experience becomes the proof and validation of the process; speculation is the chaos that gives way to Knowing.  And all this happens simply because we are conscious, sentient beings restless for meaning and understanding.