Monthly Archives: April 2012

Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood

In January of 1939, when Britain was consumed by the anxiety that Hitler might invade Netherlands(the “Dutch war scare”), the young British novelist Christopher Isherwood arrived in America to further his literary prospects.  In Los Angeles, he found his fellow countryman and friend Gerald Heard engaged in some mystical meditation practices under the guidance of Swami Prabhavananda who headed the Vedanta society of Southern California. In Isherwood’s opinion, the Christians were sour life-haters and sex-forbidders, hypocritically denying their rabid secret lusts while the Hindus seemed to be stridently emotional mystery-mongers whose mumbo-jumbo was ridiculous rather than sinister.  Nevertheless, his curiosity was sparked by the discreet and composed Heard, who refused to divulge the secret teachings because it was absolutely forbidden to repeat the teacher’s instructions to anyone else.

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Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Anandamayi Ma

Anandamayi Ma(1896-1982) was a spiritual personality from Bengal, India.  Her birth name was Nirmala Sundari.  She attended the village school for two years.  Although her teachers were pleased with her ability, her family thought she was dull-minded because of her indifference and constantly happy demeanor. When her mother once fell seriously ill, relatives remarked with puzzlement about the child remaining apparently unaffected.

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The rhythms of our consciousness

There are many planes and parts of our being each with their own unique rhythm. Idling in bed early in the morning, we may find that the longing for sex can seize the lethargic mind.  After lunch when the stomach is full, one might feel the irrational urge to lash out in anger at some irritating individual.  On Sunday evenings while listening to a wistful melody, one might become forlorn and slip into a state of depression.  Psychologist Kay Jamison, after reviewing more than sixty studies across countries in both hemispheres, concluded that the peak periods for suicide are late spring and summer[1].  Likewise, she found two broad peaks in seasonal incidence of major depressive episodes: March-May and Sept-Nov [2].

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Isaac Newton, mind-reading and the scholar-gypsy

In one of his notebooks entitled “Philosophical Questions”, the English scientist Isaac Newton(1642-1727) jotted down his musings into questions related to the mind-body problem.  He contemplated on the working of the mind, the seat of the soul (was it in the brain?), the nature of free will, the existence of a soul in animals and so on.  Amongst these jottings, we find a brief allusion to meditation and to the mind-reading skills of an Oxford scholar.

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What Did J.D. Salinger, Leo Tolstoy, and Sarah Bernhardt Have in Common?

(The surprising—and continuing—influence of Swami Vivekananda, the pied piper of the global yoga movement – an article by Ann Louise Bardach)

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