This is part two of the adventures in Advaita Vedanta... will you travel with me a while?

Saturday Satsang

Hari OM

Just a brief note to apologise for missing Thursday's thoughts this week - life does sometimes have to win! Now, for some wisdom from the Master:

We must come to realize the power and strength, the need and value for an unshakeable personal faith in discovering and developing the inner vitality in us and in the undaunted striving for a fuller life. 

The uplifting, inspiring thoughts that we entertain richly accumulate our mental wealth and intellectual treasure of purity, serenity, love cheerfulness and aspiration for the nobler gains. Let every moment assert and affirm this goodness within us.

Whispering Wednesday

Hari OM

I was struck by the adjustment to the Olympic motto. To "Faster, Higher, Stronger" has now been added, "Together." In a lengthy speech, the IOC president wanted us to understand that had it not been for a unity of vision, the games this year might still not have happened. Not vision alone, but passion and the will to make it happen. The onus fell to Japan to produce the venues and infrastructure, but all the nations involved had to play their part.

The one word in English represents all the different threads and effort expended. It is used to measure the collective nature of that effort. 

This is one of those things that are important in a world that, in other respects, seems to be breaking into ever-smaller factions. Nothing of any great note can happen unless there is communication, sharing, participation and reciprocation in all actions. Sanskrit, of course, has a few words to refer to aspects of what this one English word seeks to convey.

I like the second on that list - sangghatayati - from the same root that gives us satsanga. The gathering of folk as a community, to mingle with others of like-interest and with a view to strive for improvement. To reach for 'personal bests' in whatever their particular field of play may be. 

In Advaita, we strive for the 'gold medal' of moksha. In the process, though, we must deal with life and to do that best, we are also best to surround ourselves with peers and helpers who appreciate that goal - even if they do not necessarily understand it themselves. We need to bring together all our true friends, our teachers, our fellow seekers. Then 'sahita' - together with them, we can debate, work our sadhana, enjoy being supported and supporting in return. We form a spiritual team.

Of course, as in sports, there are some of us who must tread a slightly more solitary path - but even that has to start from a place of nourishment and safety - a place to which we can return to restore ourselves as we forge ahead. We might be able to progress faster, reach higher and have stronger spiritual ability than others around us - but we cannot achieve that without our support team. Together with them we might - just possibly - attain the gold.

Textual Tuesday

Hari OM

Last week you were given the very first of the morning prayers to study. And use! Once that is done, swinging the feet to the floor, this following prayer is to be recited. In doing so, reach forward with your hands and place your palms on the floor also (note that a morning stretch has been incorporated!!!) and on closing the prayer, again bring the hands to your eyes.

smuÔvsne devI pvRtStnm{fle,

iv:[upiTn nmStu_y< padSpzR ]mSvme.

Samudra vasane Devi parvata stana mandale,
Visnu-patni namastubhyam paadasparsha kshamasvame.

O! Mother Earth, who has the ocean as clothes 
and mountains and forests on her body, 
who is the wife of Lord Vishnu, I bow to you.
Please forgive me for touching you with my feet.

It is always good to remember to walk lightly upon this earth!

Meditative Monday

Hari OM

...and brrreeeaaattthhheeeee...

Working a journal such as suggested last week, for cleansing the mind prior to sitting for meditation, is one step in preparation.

Another is to concentrate on the breath and 'clean the lung' - although we are not talking full-on yogic pranayama here. That can be highly technical in its own way. However, the basic techniques are useful in all yogas (meditation is also yoga - remember the word itself only means 'path' or 'way' and is not about making bodily contortions!)

Once in asana, simply let the eyelids droop and - if you can - focus on the end of your nose, or somewhere close to it. Now, draw a slow breath inward and fill to the fullest lung capacity that you can. That is, right to the diaphragm. If you are breathing correctly, the shoulders will barely move. If you are only filling the top lung, the shoulders heave. Perhaps for one session, concentrate only on working the diaphragmatic muscle. Drop those shoulders! Don't worry that the tummy expands. The lungs are balloons, as they grow they push down so something has to move out of the way. 

Hold at the full breath for a second or two, then slowly release the breath again - all the way. Use the diaphragm to squeeze out the last drop of converted air. Hold a second or two, then repeat. Establish a slow breathing rhythm to take you into meditation.

Sunday Statements

Hari OM

A Guru does not 'condition' the minds of his disciples by the walls of his own ideas but points out to them new and untried realms of contemplation. In fact, he only tries to paint in words his blissful experience of the Truth and the path that led him to it. It is the disciples that must reflect, meditate and realise.⁠

- Swami Chinmayananda⁠

Saturday Satsang

Hari OM

Today is Gurupurnima - the day to honour parampara and pay homage to one's own teacher. I never had the privilege of direct experience with HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, but I am 'one generation' removed. This does not lessen the respect and Love held for the teachings of this master and the guidance handed down via his direct disciples, my own acharyas, Sw. Swaroopananda (Head of CM International), Sw. Shrikarananda (Sydney), Sw. Advayananda (Head of CIF). To them and others my pranaams.

Today's satsang from Gurudev is on the important subject that underpins so much of living life well... capital 'ell' Love!

A devotee recalls how it was so refreshing to hear that “God is Love.” These words she had heard so often shouted with full force from high up in a pulpit by priests over many years, who said “God is Love” but who only inspired fear so that the words had made no sense to her. She says that it was thanks to Gurudev that she realized that Love is the antidote to all feelings of fear and guilt — not soppy emotional love, but a love born of higher knowledge.

She recalls sitting with Gurudev once while he was reading a newspaper, and some junk started to come up in her mind, and then the fear and doubt started to gather. Then, quietly, from behind the newspaper, she heard, “Drop it, drop it!”

Gurudev showered His love on each one, day in and day out, “Love! Love! Love! Why are you afraid to love? It is your birthright to love everybody,” he said.

Thursday Thoughts

Hari OM

This week the news is filled with 'invasion' in many forms. 

Invasion of heat to the North American continent - and now to the UK and parts of Europe.

Invasion of water in the form of excess rain and floods bringing death and havoc in mid-Europe, in Chembur (Mumbai), and New Zealand. I am sure this is not all.

...Invasion via mobile phone...**

It is hard not to think, 'why not an invasion of compassion, an invasion of Love, an invasion of true community spirit, an invasion of trust..???'

Again it falls to those of us who ask these questions - nay make these pleas for humanitarianism - to not just wail to the wall (or screen). We must become the embodiment of that which we wish to see. Next time we catch ourselves looking down on someone, where for a moment our Love is lacking, when our spirit for communing withdraws or when we become judgemental, distrusting, or ourselves untrustworthy - in those moments which we all do have from time to time - let us remember to rise above our base nature and become the very thing. Let us be the change...

**For fullest reporting and podcasts on same, do visit The Guardian.

Whispering Wednesday

Hari OM

While preparing the next set of shlokas for study on Tuesdays, beginning as we did yesterday with the waking prayer, it will become necessary to look at 'shaucham'. Cleanliness, after all, is said to be next to Godliness!

शौचम् / shaucham actually translates as 'purification'. The concept, then, is not that we simply bathe (स्नानम् / snaanam), but that in the washing of the body we also concentrate on clearing out our minds and flattening the ego. This is done through the prayers of remembrance of the greater cosmos, such as will be viewed over the next few 'text-days.' 

Which, following the 'whisper,' brings us to "prayer" and the oft thought question, 'why are we bothering?'

source-Google Images
Prayer is often looked at purely as an intercession between ourselves and some higher authority - generally referred to as "God." However, there does not actually have to be someone receiving the calls we put into the ether. The purpose of prayer is to rid ourselves of our worries, to open ourselves to the possibilities that will present themselves to us and to surrender our egos... perhaps that last ought to go first! If we are seeking a deep voice to echo back with an answer, we haven't quite attuned ourselves to the purpose of spiritual connection, I would venture to say.

Surrendering the ego, though, clears us to the reception of what comes toward us on any given day. If we are thinking clearly and are unburdened due to our prayers, we are more likely to be open to all the things that come our way and - within those, if we listen deeply - we may hear that very voice from within us that we hoped for...

Textual Tuesday

Hari OM

Having looked at some Shanti mantras used to start prayer sessions, gatherings, projects, study groups and such, it might be useful to look at a few prayers that can be utilised in daily practice.

One prayer, perhaps taught to children in some households but recited by all with spiritual saadhana in mind, is to be chanted immediately upon waking. 

Sitting up in bed, but before moving from it:

Hold your hands side to side as depicted. As you see, each of the first three lines of the shloka refers to, first, Lakshmi, then Saraswati and third, Krishna. As you recite the final line, bring the hands up to cover the eyes, bringing the essence of the prayer into you. Here are the transliteration and the translation.

Karagre vasate Lakshmi
Karamadhye Saraswati
Karamuule tu Govinda
Prabhaate karadarshanam.

At the tip of our hands lies Lakshmi - (we worship for prosperity)
At the centre of the hands lies Saraswati - (we worship for knowledge)
At the base of the hands lies Govinda - (we worship for health and protection)
(therefore) every day look to the hands for their presence (and that they guide our work).

Meditative Monday

Hari OM

... of course, it's not just for Mondays. Meditation is for any day - even all day if one has the luxury and inclination. Experiencing such is quite inwardly shifting but also takes some effort. In these times of always being busy, taking that time out can seem even more than a luxury. For many, it is a challenge as large as any corporate project. In meditation, one is forced to face oneself as this small individual before even rising into anything beyond that. 

This is the real reason that so many find excuses for why they cannot practice. The idea of surrendering any part of the ego-self is scary as all get-go. There is no place at all for the ego to sit in true meditation. 

When we sit in 'contemplation', all too often, it is not about finer philosophical points but about sorting out the different aspects of life. It may be about an incident, a person, or something that we are struggling to take responsibility for. All matters of the ego. None of which lead us to meditation proper. 

Therefore, a technique that I might offer you if you wish to start taking control of those thoughts in order to drop them and start contemplation on matters esoteric, is to keep a pre-med(itation) journal. Pour all the raging thoughts of the week, day, hour into the pages there. Spend as much as an hour at that - longer if necessary. Yes, even if the meditation itself is only to be for ten minutes. That ten minutes will be solid gold if you have succeeded in keeping all external matters at bay. Parking them in the journal prior to sitting with your Self does work - though this itself can take some practice. 

Hard work this meditation lark! Worth every effort though, of this you are assured. Success will be measured against the work put into it.

Saturday Satsang

Hari Om

A spiritual seeker should not try to run away in the very beginning into protection but must court life and plunge into the centre of it and take life as it comes - good, bad or indifferent – and learn to balance himself in spite of all the imperfections in the circumstances.

A family, a brother and so on are pieces set up around you to give a defined experience, which alone will be conducive to your progress. Take what life has to give you as the Lord’s gift – prasāda. Sorrows polish off the vāsanās, and tears are the brasso of the mind.

The eternal law provides each of us with a circumstance in life to enjoy or suffer strictly according to and in continuation of our past. There are no accidents in the eternal law. Moment-to-moment, life is progressive, continual and logical.

What is to be avoided is not the world outside. In the impulse of the moment, in a rising tide of disgust at some specific failure, people often renounce in a hurry and run away from life. Such people, without exception, come to live in regret, suffering endless mental agony arising out of their physical privations.

The exhaustion and fatigue suffered by them in this subjective storm is the source of all worldly sorrows. This storm is in the mind, which they will carry wherever they go. What has to be changed is the mind, not the environment.

Let a person stay where he is stationed and placed in life, which is all prescribed according to his psychological texture, and proceed according to the work allocated to him, the duties enjoined on him, according to his qualifications, his psychological nature, his dharma. Doing his dharma, he will be serving the higher cause.

Thursday Thoughts

Hari OM

The purpose of any philosophy is to help us live our lives better by applying as detached a level of scrutiny as we can upon the big questions and the small. The majority of philosophy, when it gets to the heart of things, ends up having to address the spiritual nature of humankind. It also serves a social and political role insofar as it can bring to light matters of ethics, values, common interest, and such. In that vein, I was struck by a quote recently observed in a national newspaper of the UK;

Written in the 17th century, these are words by which many a government of today could live - yet so many do not. We are in a world that seems determined to remove freedoms (even under the guise of handing out freedom) and, in some places, to misuse, twist, misinterpret - I would go so far as to say (and do not do so lightly) 'bastardise' - the very philosophy that is claimed to being upheld. 

The majority of folk look to their leaders for establishing a path. How lost are we when that leadership is only interested in itself? Or, at best, only interested in making better things for a specific group of people and not for the whole of their nation-state? This is when all individuals who feel they are being dragged along by such a tide must find it in themselves to take a stand against it. The obvious opportunity, when it comes, is to use the privilege of voting and ensuring a power shift. Somewhere among such individuals, stronger ones must come forward and take up the banner of leadership themselves. 

Vedantically, it is understood that everything ultimately comes down to the individual and the choices they make for their lives. Vedanta also clarifies that no thought or deed takes place entirely discretely - that there is always a residual effect. Ripples in the pool of a dropped stone. Everything - everyone - is connected. Just as those leaders of negativity have dropped their stones into the pool of life, so too must those with a wider worldview, a more generic sense of nationhood and more open hearts and minds to the idea that 'variety is the spice of life.'

I truly believe it is possible to have a strong faith system to sustain oneself and yet govern a people in which others' beliefs and habits exist, without the need or permission of dissent or definitions of difference. That it is possible to govern for the whole and not the few. Our colour, creed, culture, gender orientation or origin of birth should not count against us if we pull together under a single flag - whichever flag we choose. That everyone has a right to reach for the Higher in whatever way they wish - provided they in their turn acknowledge that equal right.

In that last sentence lies the crux. This is no single path to the top of the mountain. To claim that any one path is the only path is to deny passage for so many and condemn them from rising. What is discovered, if one travels deeply - highly - enough, is that the paths actually draw together and travellers depend on each other all the more...

Whispering Wednesday

Hari OM

The word did not so much get whispered. It was more the prompting of an image. I took the photo some while ago, but sorting files last week, it kinda struck deep.

HEART. It has become something of a loose symbol, an emoji and a hand-shaping for all who show themselves to camera and crowds. Wearing their hearts upon their sleeves, as it were.

In Vedanta, heart is understood to be of the mind. That is to say, in the context of emotion. When a concept or occurrence affects us physically, via the limbic, triggering the parasympathetic system, we tend to talk about our heart leaping, or coming into our throats and other similar terms. It is not entirely imagined. The rush of adrenaline that will have been triggered by the systems mentioned in response is all part of the fight or flight technology in our body. Even a positive event can trigger this. Excitement has the same causative response as fear. 

However, it is all triggered in the brain and the thoughts we have around it are purely of the mind. Nothing of the physical as such at all. And nothing to do with the actual organ we call the heart. 

This is true also when we talk about taking heart as in, having courage. The organ is not going to supply anything but the circulation of blood. The lungs are going to do nothing but exchange the air. The brain is going to do nothing but be the processor. 

The data is written into that processor by chitta (the memory of our spiritual selves and logger of current experiences), the buddhi (the analytical section of our mental selves), the manas (the river of thoughts - the output of the programming), and the ahangkaara (the ego-self which is the interface with the world, the 'keyboard' upon which our individual program is written).

Events happen, good or bad. The animal being reacts according to the physical responses required to deal with those situations. What happens to us as humans, though, is that we formulate thoughts and give words to express the effect upon us - the general word being 'feelings.' Further to that, we assign much precedence to those feelings and permit them importance, governance, that can often cause a great deal of trouble. Not just for ourselves, but for others. It is this animal part of us, where the buddhi has somehow become disengaged or is over-ridden by the ahangkaara and manas, that stirs up, and allows to rule, such things as the hatred and cynicism that has become so prevalent.

When we say of someone that they are permitting their hearts to rule their head, what we are really saying is that they are believing their ego and not their intellect. No matter how clever their words.

That requires of those who are faced with insult, abuse or any other negative, to 'find heart' and give voice to the effect upon them. 

In doing this, both sides need to rise into their buddhi. They need to be clear, analytical, truly above the animal responses. Sadly, this is something that appears to be lacking for many today. Too many are willing to sink into their lower selves and not seek to raise or put effort into improving themselves as human beings. To become the epitome of Love Universal that this symbol ought truly to represent.

Textual Tuesday

Hari OM

The last in this mini-series of Shanti mantras and, having begun it with an opening prayer, let it naturally end with the closing prayer, used universally after ending any function, discourse, ceremony and so on. This mantra opens the Isha Upanishad and comes from the Shukla Yajur Veda.
You may hear the chhandas on this link

 पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णश्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥
 शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om Puurnnam-Adah Puurnnam-Idam Puurnnaat-Purnnam-Udacyate
Puurnnashya Puurnnam-Aadaaya Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate ||
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Aum! That is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite.
The infinite proceeds from the infinite.
(Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe),
It remains as the infinite alone.
Aum! Peace! Peace! Peace!

Meditative Monday

Hari OM

A daily practice of meditation when one is 'running life' can be a challenge. Not necessarily in terms of the meditation itself, but purely in logistics. 

Last week I had visitors; quite the event given the long absences enforced by the pandemic. They were able to stay for two nights. When one lives a solitary life and has a set routine, however, such visitations do require that one makes some adjustments to that routine. There can be no taking an hour out of the togetherness time to 'just sit and naval-gaze,' as those visitors might refer to it.

So what to do?

Be creative. Meditative practice does not always have to be transcendental. It can be carried out while walking about or sitting viewing the surroundings.  This is precisely what I did. When we were at the shore, time was taken looking at the details and 'landscapes' that could be found on the shingle stones... something that engaged the companions too! In another part of the visit, I drew attention to the landscape and water views and we took time to sit on benches and just be silent together, taking it all in.

Then, on another occasion, there was the detail to be found in the vegetation around our picnic site. Encouraging the others to go foraging, I simply stood and pondered upon the provision of berries for our nourishment and pleasure. 

Meditation not only exercised but shared!

Saturday Satsang

Hari OM

Self-love is necessary, rather unavoidable. As long as self-deprecation is a badge of humility and spirituality, we will find it difficult to reach the higher climbs of contemplation. ⠀⁠
To despise ourselves is to exhibit a gross lack of appreciation of our source, the Lord. It is to accuse our Creator of inadequacy and incompetence. How can an individual, who doubts his own love and goodness, ever be spiritual? ⠀⁠
Our wrong perception of our self-love is that we equate what we are with what we have done. We ask ourselves, ʻHow can I love myself when I have so many faults?ʼ But we need not love our faults, nor love ourselves because of our successes and achievements. ⠀⁠
Despising our faults is different from blaming ourselves for having the faults. It is natural to make mistakes. Consider yourself as your own child. Children will be mischievous and will make mistakes. But parents will laugh them away. ⠀⁠
Proper self-love is having faith in the goodness in ourselves. A sense of guilt only brings in the same sin again and again into our mind. Don’t just ask for forgiveness; forgive yourself. Holding onto guilt is still focusing on the ego. ⠀⁠
The Lord cannot forgive us as long as we are feeling guilty and bringing up the same idea again and again in our mind. If we accept and acknowledge the mistake, it is forgiven. ⠀⁠
Once surrendered to Him, forget and forgive yourself. It is so simple if the surrender is total and complete.⁠

Thursday Thoughts

Hari OM

Again one is left wondering how threads get caught in ideas and we start to find things coming along from different angles all at the same time... yesterday, I had been given the word 'transforming' to play with. A comment came about how each must flow to this transformation as and when it is their time. 

Within hours of this, along came a quote in something else I was reading - and it hits that theme perfectly. So I leave you with it... (I've decorated it a bit, just for fun - you may wish to download and keep it as inspiration - do so if you wish.)

Whispering Wednesday

Hari OM

Today's word to ponder upon was not so much whispered to my inner ear as dashed across my eyes, much as last week's offering had been. Whereas that had been from a repeated presence of the word, this one today was a mere casual arrival. On glancing at a calendar promoting a charity, the word that seemed to enlarge itself in my awareness was "Transforming."

Having paid not too much attention at the time a few days back, I then realised I had this week's offering for a little deeper thought. My immediate response was to find the Sanskrit word. Naturally, there were two which came up. In English, we know clearly that we are talking about the motion from one condition to another. That can be physical, mental, emotional and any combination of these. It can relate to things external to us, such as in the environment or work conditions. It can also relate to how we are - thus having the additional context of adaptation. Transforming is, perhaps, what might be done to us, while adapting is what we do for ourselves.

 विवर्तन/vivartana in the shabdkosha has some 24 interpretations. Some of them are mere tweaks of others, but overall they pertain mostly to the physical. Revolving, circumambulation, turning and so on. One term struck me though - 'struggling'. This tied vivartana to the other word that might be used in the context of transformation, that being   पुनःकरण/punaHkaraNa. With this translation, we get a bit closer to the effects upon us of undertaking study of any subject. 

Acquiring knowledge in and of itself does not have an effect - it is what we do with that knowledge that helps us adapt. Thus the knowledge can be said to have transformed us. In this word, we see 'karaNa' which is 'to do' or 'work'. The prefix is 'punaH', which simply means 'again'

Straightforward word, just as transforming is in English. 

The point here though is that for any change to happen, there is work involved - and, perhaps, some struggle. This is surely to make certain that we value what we struggled for, don't you think? Rather than the risky 'easy come easy go' that so often prevails?

The study of Advaita is - when the practices it offers through meditation, sadhana and seva are applied - transformative. How much so is determined by how much it is we wish to adapt. Like any journey, we get from it what we are willing to allow in, how much we look behind the surface and how much we are prepared to interact. How far do we wish to 'remake' ourselves and what sort of struggle can we bear? 

Textual Tuesday

Hari OM

Today, one of the most ubiquitous but equally important Shanti mantras. It belongs to the Atharva Veda and is used in front of several Upanishads, including Mandukya and Prashna. It is also the opening mantra for the Ganapati Atharvashiirsha Stotram. It is an invocation used before any undertaking and points us towards hearing, seeing and doing only good things. You can listen to the chhandas on this link.

 भद्रं कर्णेभिः शृणुयाम देवाः ।
भद्रं पश्येमाक्षभिर्यजत्राः ।
स्थिरैरङ्गैस्तुष्टुवागँसस्तनूभिः ।
व्यशेम देवहितं यदायूः ।
स्वस्ति  इ्द्रो वृद्धश्रवाः ।
स्वस्ति नः पूषा विश्ववेदाः ।
स्वस्ति नस्ताक्षर्यो अरिष्टनेमिः ।
स्वस्ति नो वृहस्पतिर्दधातु ॥
 शा्तिः शा्तिः शा्तिः ॥

Om Bhadram Karnnebhih Shrnnuyaama Devaah |
Bhadram Pashyema-Akssabhir-Yajatraah |
Sthirair-Anggais-Tussttuvaamsas-Tanuubhih |
Vyashema Devahitam Yad-Aayuh |
Svasti Na Indro Vrddha-Shravaah |
Svasti Nah Puussaa Vishva-Vedaah |
Svasti Nas-Taakssaryo Arisstta-Nemih |
Svasti No Vrhaspatir-Dadhaatu ||
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Aum! O gods, may we hear auspicious words with the ears;
While engaged in yagnas,
May we see auspicious things with the eyes;
While praising the gods with steady limbs,
May we enjoy a life that is beneficial to the gods.
May Indra of ancient fame be auspicious to us;
May the supremely rich (or all-knowing) Pusa (god of the earth)
Be propitious to us;
May Garuda, the destroyer of evil,
Be well disposed towards us;
May Brihaspati ensure our welfare.
Aum! Peace! Peace! Peace!

Meditative Monday

Hari OM

There is a lot of info out there about meditation. It has become 'a thing' all over the planet. Big business, in some cases. Which is ridiculous. Anyone can meditate - if they put their mind to it *cough!*

However you chose to approach it, know that - as said last week - you first need to determine the level of your commitment. No use going to the dairy once and hoping the milk will last all year. If you are reading this here, let's assume you have made the decision to practice even just for five minutes a day. Yes, again it is said. Daily practice is what will perfect it. One has to build the meditation muscle.

Then there is the location and the aasana - that business of posture. Look, this again depends on where you are at with your practice and the level of commitment - but also what sort of expectation you have for your meditative practice.

If it is simply for destressing and to improve your sense of wellbeing, then you can sit anywhere - even the office. 

If you wish deeper inner healing and to start addressing your spiritual nature, then probably it is best, certainly in the early stages, to sit in an environment conducive to that purpose. If you do not have a separate space at home, then it could be a quiet corner of your local park, or if you have the chance of it, on a hillside or beside a river or the shore of the sea.  

If you have committed to sincere spiritual practice and seek Self-Realisation (Transcendentalism), then again, it will not matter, for you will anyway be 'above' the environment. Though, to be clear, it is probably best to be a little out of the way in case someone misunderstands!

As for the posture in each case, the basics are the same regardless. However, for the first two, the use of a chair or stool is acceptable. For the third, it is likely best to follow the instructions given in shaastra as far as possible, which is to say on a grass/cotton pad on the ground/floor, legs in 'Padma pose.  Whether you chose chair or floor, the positioning is much the same - but with chair, feet should be flat to the floor. Hands and shoulders should be loose - fold hands tidily but not strained upon the lap. Keep the spine as straight as possible. The ideal is that the shoulders are over the hips, and the natural arch at lumber is not straining. 

We have become so lax in this time of office work and comfortable living. We do not realise how curved our regular posture has become. Thus, never mind the meditation muscle; we must also build the back muscle. Beginning meditation is all about body focus as we find that sweet spot where everything falls into line...

This much itself will take up that initial five minutes of daily practice...

Saturday Satsang

Hari OM

Only in a cheerful atmosphere of the mind can spirituality develop. Many devotees go to the church, mosque, temple or other places of worship in the hope of attaining such atmosphere. They go to the altar with all their sorrows; they kneel, weep, and pray for hours together. But all the time, the mind is droopy, loaded with its sorrows. Even after years of prayers, such a mind develops an attitude of tragedy rather than a satisfying mood of joy.

So, when you go to the prayer room or to your seat of meditation, bring the mind to a mood of ecstatic joy.

Today, when you have ten minutes all to yourself, sit down and practise smiling in your mind. Watch what is happening. It does not matter if your eyes are open; simply watch the mind and make it smile. Drop all its worries for the time being. In a cheerful mind, there will be very few agitations.

And in a mind with minimum agitations, sattva predominates. In your daily meditation, you need not follow all the various methods and strategies by which the mind can be persuaded to come to quietude.

Each day your mind will bring a different weapon, and from your armoury, you must select the right weapon as an antidote.

On certain days, for example, you will feel an attachment to the body. By relaxing the body to a large extent, your attachment to it will be temporarily released.

Thereafter, the mind’s source of disturbance – the ego with all its anxieties – can be eliminated. Do not curse yourself; anxieties are natural. They come to you because of your relationships. In you, there is no worry. Because of the relationships pertaining to the field of your activities, disturbances reach your mind.

Freedom Friday

Hari OM
Just thought I'd throw in a random post for today, as I shall be wont to do from time to time... just loved this quote from Swami-ji.