A blog reader asked the question – “How to make best utilize one’s savings from a spiritual point of view? Should one take medical insurance, life insurance, invest in mutual funds. If we engage in the stock market, it increases greed ? In some countries, medical costs are high so medical insurance is necessary.”
Time magazine in Jan, 1950 called it the “Revolt of a doormat” (alternate link). Nandini Mehta, wife of Bombay textile millionaire Bhagvandas Mehta and mother of three children went to court asking for legal separation. She had become a disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti and aspired to live a celibate life but her husband would not permit her to do so. After an acrimonious court battle, she eventually separated from her husband but was unable to gain custody of her children (1). She devoted the rest of her life to running an orphanage Bal Anand (i.e. “joy of children”; it still exists; see a report).
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.
This article is motivated by a recent comment on this blog. Those who have gained some familiarity with Sri Aurobindo are often baffled by his conduct: How could he smoke or eat meat while practicing Yoga? Doesn’t it violate the central tenets of Yoga? If that didn’t hinder his practice, can I emulate him? The answer is: “No, you shouldn’t emulate him” as we shall see by the end of this article.
There is a golden thread which knits together the lives of all sages. Behind their unique beatific personalities and inimitable ways of expression, they are all manifesting the same Divine Consciousness. It is this underlying unity which forms the basis for the similar phenomena that are visible in their lives. This article examines their ability to utter those aphoristic Truths which continue to resonate long after they are gone.
Growing up in a social milieu, we develop into gregarious beings who are accustomed to being praised, respected or at least acknowledged for being an individual. Humiliation in any form comes as a sharp blow to the ego. When our expectations are not met, we instinctively become resentful and hold grudges instead of handling the situation with dispassion. What do you do if the Guru, the very person you expected to be an epitome of boundless compassion, suddenly turns cold and hard? It can be a particularly acute test for the disciple as the two anecdotes here illustrate.
In an era suffering from an overabundance of Gurus and Avatars, it has become difficult to distinguish the real from the fake, especially when these Gurus are surrounded by a retinue of adoring, immature minions who tend to conflate coincidences with miracles and fervent imagination with spiritual experiences. Whose story should we believe? Various ancient Hindu scriptures speak of the different methods by which a Guru may initiate a disciple, and these signs can provide a test for discernment. We briefly cover the modalities of this initiation process (called Diksha in Sanskrit) with a few examples from some modern-day seers. Continue reading
At the risk of sounding like a crackpot, the topic indicated in the title deserves exploration because it is pertinent to the spiritual quest. Many spiritual aspirants, devoid of a living Guru, do at times wonder in one of their despondent moods if it is possible to receive spiritual guidance from Enlightened Masters who had lived before. This question is all the more relevant in an age where the thirst for something spiritual is abundant and so are the charlatans who masquerade as teachers. In this article, we speculate on the prospects with a few examples.
When the third eye is awakened in a Yogi, he/she is able to visualize the subtle face of a person which offers precise indications on the character of that particular individual. It is the soul that builds the face. To the awakened Master, certain physical features can be singular indicators of our past incarnations. The examples here illustrate how Sri Aurobindo, the Mother Mirra Alfassa and Ramakrishna Paramahansa could determine the physiognomy of individuals.
As with every undertaking in life, so also in the practice of Yoga, some aptitude or competency is required. Some people take to meditation like fish to water, while others labor all their life to unveil the light which lies latent within. Aptitude can be developed through right living and right thinking and is carried over into future incarnations, guiding us into contact with saints and Yogis who can lead us to enlightenment. The Guru adapts his teaching based on the aptitude of the disciple since all are not capable of assimilating and realizing the Truth in identical manner. This is also the reason why different kinds of meditation techniques have developed over time. These are some selections on the subject of aptitude from various sages.
When the Yoga enters into deeper states of trance, the heat of the Kundalini begins to course through the body, the subtle body is activated and the brain experiences a reverberating natural silence. The Yogin experiences a sense of purity, rejuvenation and alertness within. At this point, one may hear subtle sounds in the ear, smell burning incense or floral fragrances (which have non-worldly origin) and gain sight into the occult worlds. The sounds which the Yogin hears tend to vary depending on the inner plane of consciousness to which one is currently attuned. This post is a collection of these subtle sounds as noted in various ancient scriptures. As we see, there is lot of similarity in these descriptions.
We are all idol-worshippers. We worship actors, sportsmen, thinkers and – when we are feeling proud – even ourselves! Our subconscious desire is to mold ourselves in the image of our idols. The Hindu practice of idolatry directs this urge to spiritual goals by clothing the Divine in various forms. The modern rational mind forgets the original psychological motive behind image worship and dismisses it all as an abomination. On the other hand, there are those who narrowly fix themselves in adoration of their chosen image forgetting that this is only a preparatory step in the spiritual path. This post explores the various pros and cons of idolatry(aka image worship).
It is always of interest when psycho-spiritual descriptions provided by one Yoga practitioner match up with those given by a practitioner of another system of Yoga. In the Gospel of Ramakrishna, Ramakrishna Paramahansa briefly mentions five ways in which the Kundalini rises. In his book Kashmir Shaivism, Swami Lakshman Joo discusses six ways in which the Kundalini rises. It is possible to identify some correspondence between their descriptions. Continue reading
Karma Yoga(Yoga of Works), as outlined in the Bhagavad Gita, involves doing work not for one’s ego but as an offering to the Divine. The principles of Karma Yoga can be easily applied in the tranquil atmosphere of some spiritual retreat where one is surrounded by like-minded people but it is much more difficult to practice in a professional or business environment of today’s capitalistic society. This post discusses some finer points of Karma Yoga based on the commentaries of Sri Aurobindo.
Sri Aurobindo never met Ramakrishna Paramahansa in physical life but he did gain contact through the occult planes with the latter as is adduced from various written works. For example, Sri Aurobindo notes in his journal Record of Yoga three instances when he received messages from Ramakrishna Paramahansa.
The words of Christ: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4) have deep meaning to those who practice Yoga. The “word of God” here indicates that the Divine Being has manifested the world using etheric vibrations and all these vibrations are akin to words coming from the mouth of God.