Adjustment to the time and space convenient for the student — which means that the individual lessons can take place in accordance with your free time in your home. If the newcomers do not feel comfortable in a group, individual lessons are the perfect preparation for group work. NOTE: Group work means working with small number of people. Also, you can create a group of people close to you to experience together the benefits of this kind of work.
In this practice, a person gets a guided ancient breathing techniques, yogic relaxation, reiki and meditation to get in touch with the inner light Higher Self in order to achieve harmony and self-love as the highest form of energy. The results are visible on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level, a person is directly linked to their highest potential, being set free from the burden of the past and any form of psycho-somatic imbalances.
Sattva Yoga is a holistic way of yoga. Sattva Yoga comes directly from India from the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh. It combines the practice of ancient yogis with the evolution of a modern man, and it offers a special, holistic approach where the individual sinks within itself in the conscious way, guided by intuition. Sattva practice brings the complete physical and spiritual health to each student. To feel most directly the benefits of sattva, the programs are designed by individual classes.
Hatha yoga static, dynamic, and Vinyasa aspects to rejuvenate the body, shape and stretch muscles, strengthen the bones, joints, spine, to increase metabolism, regulate the acute and chronic injuries and body weight. Kundalini yoga — Shakti Yoga , which liberates and lifts Kundalini Energy to raise our infinite potential. Nada yoga — here, the sound is used, with vibration healing the deeper layers of the mind, bringing us to the subtle emotional state of removing blockages in the energy centers, recognizing our unique internal sound of the soul.
Dance of free movements activates the power of self — healing and creative expression through specific music. The body moves at their own pace without any plan and introduces unknown by putting yourself into a state of self-healing psyche. Pranayama — ancient breathing techniques that have a profound impact on physical, mental and spiritual level where we see how the breath affects us and how we influence the breath. Breathing techniques that increase lung capacity, improve digestion, vitality, memory and immune system, remove toxins from the body, protect internal organs and cells from degradation, removing both acute and chronic stress, neutralize lactic acid which causes sluggishness and fatigue , regenerate the skin, increase the intake of prana universal life force in our body.
Meditation — includes a variety of techniques: silence and observing the breath, meditation and guided meditation with mantras and meditation kriyas. These techniques awaken intuition, increase memory, concentration, sense of self-awareness, compassion, inner peace and harmony, remove deep stress, alter the structure of the brain, balance the nervous system and the heart rate and normalize hormonal system.
Sattva puts the emphasis on Bhakti yoga , yoga of connection and deep devotion that teaches us how to live that connection through the experience of love. Gyana Yoga , which means the unconditioned mind, transcendenting all dogma and dogmatic teachings and restrictions created by keeping us in ego identification. Within Gyana Yoga the ancient texts of yoga are taught, but also modern quantum physics discoveries that confirm the correlation with the yogic teachings.
Karma Yoga — yoga of service for the sake of service, without any expectations, as yoga without the service is not yoga at all, and through it we learn how to be committed to serving in order to influence the world around us. The practice of yoga is both the art and science which allow the union of man with his body, mind and spirit, thus bringing him into dynamic harmony and inner serenity.
The aim of Hatha Yoga is to balance or to establish perfect harmony between these two forces, and then the prana life force begins to flow in its most perfect form in the Sushumna Nadi energy channels in the spinal cord. In this way, the consciousness expands and people can make the first steps toward spiritual enlightenment. Patience and persistence using Pratyahara, the withdrawal of the senses from external objects dhairyam. Direct perception of the object of meditation through concentration and meditation dhyana and dharana.
For the body to continue to develop on this noble path, the ancient yogis have developed six methods for the purification or so-called Shatkarma: Neti nasal cleansing Dhauti cleaning of all channels for feeding , Nauli massaging and strengthening the abdominal organs , Basti flushing the colon , Kapalbhati technique for the purification of the front part of the brain , Trataka staring at a particular object to develop concentration and awake psychic powers.
Hatha Yoga balances the different levels of being. It is therefore an elevated road that performs multiple influences, and at much higher levels than it is usually attributed. Maintains health of the body — strengthens your whole body inside, regulates body weight by improving the metabolism and the immune system.
Your letters will receive sympathetic attention and will be treated confidentially. Such correspondence is looked after by monks and sisters of the Self-Realization Order. These renunciants have dedicated their lives to finding God by following this path, and to serving Him by helping others insofar as it is within their power to do so toward that highest of all achievements.
We pray that to the end you travel with us the Kriya Yoga highway to the Inf inite. Physical Body is Constantly Changing Inspire us, that our matter worship be changed to adoration of Thee. Through our purified hearts may Thy perfect kingdom come on earth, and a11 nations be liberated from misery. Let the soul freedom within us be manifested outwardly. May our wills grow strong in overcoming worldly desires and final- ly be attuned to Thy faultless will.
Give us our daily bread: food, health, and prosperity for the body; efficiency for the mind; and, above all, Thy love and wisdom for the soul. It is Thy law that "with the same measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you. Leave us not in the pit of temptations into which we have fallen through our misuse of Thy gift of reason. Shouldst Thou wish to test us, 0 Spirit, may we realize Thou art enchanting beyond any earthly temptation.
Help us to deliver ourselves from the shadowy bonds of the sole evil: ignorance of Thee For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Self-Realization Fellowship teachings fulfill Christ's promise that he would send the "Comforter. I' "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you" John God the Father is the Absolute, the Unmanife sted, existing beyond vibratory creation.
God the Son is the Christ Consciousness Brahma or Kutastha Chaitanya existing within vibratory creation; this Christ Consciousness is the "only begotten" or sole reflection in creation of the Uncreated Infinite. The outer manifesta-tion of the omnipresent Christ Consciousness, its "witness" Revelation 3: 14 , is Aum, the Word or Holy Ghost: invisible divine power, the only doer, the sole causative and activating force that upholds all creation through vibration.
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Aum the blissful Comforter is heard in meditation and reveals to the devotee the ultimate Truth, bringing "all things to. By deep attunement with Aurn he comes to feel the presence of the Christ. It is thus that we may "receive himtt--i. This experience of receiving the Christ Consciousness within one's own consciousness is the real "second coming" of Christ. Devoted, regular practice of the Aurn Om Technique of Meditation Les- son 29 and of the Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration Lesson 21 is essential in the daily life of every Self-Realizationist who is seriously seeking spiritual advancement.
He should also faithfully practice the Recharging Exercises Lesson 8-A , whose principles were discovered in by Paramahansa Yogananda. PLAN OF SRF LESSONS The Lessons are grouped into "steps, each of which contains approximately twenty-five Lessons; at the end of each step the student receives a summary of the preceding material, together with pertinent questions to help him in reviewing that step; and a brief questionnaire that may be completed and sent to Self-Realization Fellowship as a progress report.
Many different subjects are covered, in some cases at length by contin- uation from Lesson to Lesson. There is something of interest for everyone, young or old, busy or at leisure. And whether a subject is of immediate interest to the student or not, the principles of Self-realization brought out in each case are universally applicable.
Do not break the continuity of thought to mull over points not immediately clear to you as you read. Proceed to the next paragraph and continue in the same manner. In this way you will grasp the full meaning of all important points without fatiguing memorization and without loss of time owing to wandering thoughts. Mother Center will be happy to help you with your questions concerning the SRF teachings and techniques. But remember that understanding is a process of growth.
If you feel you are encountering some real problem or obstacle, do not hesitate to write to Mother Center for guidance and help. Otherwise, first give yourself time to study, apply, and assimilate the instruc- tions in the SRF Lessons. More and more of your questions will be answered with each successive SRF Lesson. All of your queries will be resolved as you deepen your own intuitive, all-knowing soul faculty of perception and under- standing by the regular practice of deep meditation. May Thy love shine forever on the sanctuary of my devotion, and may I be able to awaken Thy love in all hearts.
Everywhere people are working, but they have forgotten God.
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First meditate and feel the divine Presence; then do your work saturated with the consciousness of God. If you do this you will never become tired. If you work for your Divine Beloved, your life will be filled with love and strength.
SRF students are taught how to dedicate inwardly to God all the day's activities; and, when work is done, to commune with Him in the temple of silence. Spirituality cannot be bought in a marketplace. God must be earnestly sought. When you are very desirous of finding Him, the Lord sends a guru. A true guru is a direct link with God.
The guru has only one purpose: to intro- duce you to the Heavenly Father. When you are in tune with a true guru you are in tune with the Lord. The relationship is eternal. Even after death, a guru continues to help his disciples i. This is a spiritual law. Those who desire the help of these Gurus in finding God should follow the way that the Gurus have shown.
The re are students who do not follow the teachings, yet expect spiritual benefits just the same.
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Those benefits will not come! An SRF student should never go to bed without first giving his deepest attention to God. Those who practice the SRF techniques of meditation daily, with sincere devotion to the Lord, will find by their own Self-realization the validity of SRF teachings. SRF asks no one to believe blindly, but to practice the methods offered in these sacred teachings.
By being loyal to the Gurus in this way, the student makes it possible for the Gurus to guide him surely to the Divine Goal. SRF teaches control of the body until one is its master. Then when you sit to meditate you will not nod. Practice these teachings and you will make your body a fit temple to receive God. The human body has to be made ready to receive the divine power. The state of consciousness has to be right. Then God will come to you!
But the Lord may not respond right away. Only when He is convinced that you seek Him not for the satisfaction of temporal desires or for spiritual glamour and glory--but simply to be His, unconditionally, forever--will He open the door. The devotees who are faithful to the end are those for whom He will open the door. But only He can tell when that day of final beatitude will come.
God does not always appear before us just because we have meditated deeply for several years, or for whatever we consider a proper length of time. If there is some flaw in their love, even saints who have meditated for incarnations may be chastened by God's failure to appear. But to those who make no demand, who just keep on striving, saying, "Lord, I will wait for you, no matter how long it takes, I I He will come.
The greatest factor for success with God is to have that resolute desire. God is caressing you through the breeze, in the sunshine. He is the food that you eat. He is the One that nurtures you as father, mother, and relatives. He is the only eternal relative. That is why Jesus said, "There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold-now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers,andchildren,andlands,withpersecutions;andintheworldtocomeeternal life" Mark ?
No one belongs to another person. We have all come from God. On earth we are seemingly strangers; it is only when we love the Lord that we become truly brothers and sisters of all. Salvation is for men and women who love God, those who go on seeking Him to the end--not just to "stick it out, " but because they love Him.
Man was not made merely for producing children and for selfish aggrandizement. Millions of persons have thought those goals to be sufficient, but they were mistaken. At death they left this world, bewildered and dissatisfied, their soul hunger unappeased. Jesus, Krishna, and the Masters are great reflections of God, perfect examples for you to follow. Thus you may know you too are a potential child of God. We are all sons of the one Father. But you have to realize that! May that consciousness come to you! No one should call himself a sinner.
What- ever your errors, they belong to the past; they are not you. God is yours! Christ, Krishna, and the great Masters are yours! Hold that truth in your bosom, in every thought you have; and one day you will find that you have only dreamed you were a man; you will wake and know you are a god, an eternal reflection of the Infinite Spirit. The greatest sin is ignorance of our oneness with Him. Self-Realization Fellowship teachings are a great dispensation sent forth into the world by Jesus Christ and Mahavatar Babaji to unite the original Christianity and the original Yoga, to bring real God-communion to people in all lands.
SRF has come to show people how to seek God. Self-Realization is the new dispensation that was promised in the scriptures. Christ promised to send the Holy Ghost after he had departed. SRF is bringing that teaching, that scientific method, which has never before been given to the world. When you practice the technique and hear and com- mune with the sacred vibration, the Aum Om or Amen, you will be one with the Lord through the Christ Consciousness immanent in it.
Anyone who receives this message with an open heart shall not go away unfulfilled. His heart shall become a wonderful cup of realization that will gradually expand to receive the ocean of Infinity, the power of the eternal Spirit. You will feel God; you will see Him smiling in the stars and the blossoms; you will see Him templed within every human being and in every good thought and every love that you have. When you have understood by your own Self-realization the spiritual mes-sage given here you will also realize that within these pages is the best that India has to offer.
Self-Realization Fellowship brings you the universal tech- nique of salvation, the royal highway to the Infinite. Today I will start with a new determination to dedicate my devotion forever at the feet of Omnipresence.
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Strengthen my will power, that I escape from bad habits and reform myself by medita- tion and the influence of spiritually minded companions. Give me the wisdom to follow happily the ways of righteousness. May I develop the soul faculty of disc rimination that detects evil, in even its subtlest forms; and that guides me to the humble paths of goodness. I would direct my life by the God-given power of free choice, not by the compulsions of hardened habits.
It initiates and keeps in continuous operation all our physical, mental, and spiritual actions. Without the spring of volition, we cannot walk, talk, think, work, or feel. In order not to exercise volition, or will power, one would have to lie down and enter a state of suspended animation. Even the slightest movement of the muscles as in winking the eyelids or any act of thinking is initiated by the use of volition. A wish implies a helpless desire of the mind. A desire is a stronger wish; it is often followed by fitful efforts to manifest itself into action.
An intention, or a determination, is a definite, strong desire expressed very forcefully once or twice through action for the accomplishment of a certain purpose. Such a determination, however strong, is often discouraged after one or perhaps sever al unsuccessful efforts. But a volition consists of a series of continuous, undiscourageable, unceasing determinations and acts revolving around a desire, until it becomes dynamic enough to produce the much-craved result.
No matter how impossible of accomplishment his goal may seem, the man of volition never stops repeating conscious acts of determination to achieve it, as long as he lives. Coercion or compul sion never brings about growth. It is freedom that accele ates evolution. Too much dependence upon what is external or objective throttles the possibility of progress and nips in the bud the potent factors of evolution.
Progress presupposes the existence of the power of growth from within; and that a subject will evolve by adjusting itself to its environment, or by adapting its environment to itself. Unless he trains his will by qpplication of scientific techniques such as Self-Realization Fellowship offers, man's power of volition atrophies.
The use of will power developed by the practice of SRF methods opens up limitless possibilities for all-round success. We must will tomove or think. And we are almost continuously moving some part of the body and thinking. Therefore the determined direction of physical activities and thought force by a developed, consciously exercised will power, can accomplish many things that might be considered impossible. Using the will does not necessitate physical or mental strain. Some Western athletes have learned to control certain muscles by will, but have failed to see the scientific principles underlying such control.
The yogis of India have a large number of postures that they practice in order to strengthen and develop their will power. The will can be utilized to develop the body; and the will itself is developed in the process by the very exercising of it. Physical and mental development are intertwined, and help each other. The SRF technique of recharging the body by will is distinctive in that it teaches one how to concentrate his attention upon the inner energy--direct giver of strength and vitality to all the tissues in the body.
The faithful student will find that practice of the technique invariably and consciously develops his will power along with his bodily strength. The newborn baby's first cry announced the birth of will power. The baby cries because it wants to remove the feeling of discomfort owing to the first painful opening and activity of the lungs. This is called llautomatic physiological will. Then the baby grows older and begins to think for himself; and if the mother denies something that the baby thinks he should have, he begins to manifest obstinacy by offering resistance. The mother may become angry and call her child "naughty.
Most young people use this explosive blind will without any worthwhile purpose, wasting energy and higher po s sibilities on passions, temptations, brawls, fast driving, rash resolutions, ungoverned appetites, and so forth. In the East we give the following illustration of the folly of letting the senses go ungoverned: The bee, for love of fragrance settles in the lotus flower; the petals entomb it if the bee forgets to get out before they close. The fish loves the taste of water; it dies when taken out of it. The moose loves music and is lured to its death by the flute of the hunter.
The wild male elephant loves the sense of touch and is lured by the tame she-elephant to captivity--behavior true to human beings too! The insect loves the sight of light and perishes trying to enjoy the white loveliness of the candle flame. So each of these creatures dies because it is addicted to a single sense. But man is attached to all five senses, and he must watch his step if he would save himself from his blind will, which urges him to jump into one of the yawning crevasses of the five sense lures.
But if one ' s thinking will retains its normal power and is made to revolve around a definite purpose, it becomes "dynamic volition. A wrongly used will weakens itself, owing to lack of encouragement from truth, as it is out of tune with the universal order. When one knows that his objective or the nature of his purpose is worthwhile, then the tenacity of his volition becomes greater.
The man of volition says: "I will use my dynamic power of volition to fight for the truth until success comes. If death intervenes, I shall take up my activity with renewed determination in another incarnation, until I have ful- filled my good purpose. By its very strength, the will sets into motion certain vibrations in the atmosphere; and nature, with its laws of order, system, and efficiency, thereupon responds by creating favorable circumstances.
Will derives its greatest strength from an honest purpose, lofty motives, and a noble solicitude for doing good to the world at large. A strong will is never stifled; it always finds a way. God's will is not guided by whim or temptation. His will is guided by wisdom. God made us, His children, in His image, that we might guide our will with wisdom, even as He does. To teach people not to use their will is not only a ridiculous denial of the Divine Father's wish; indeed, it is an impossibility, since the will is involved in even the slightest movement of the muscle s or in thinking.
Temptation is a delusive, compelling, conflicting, joy-expecting thought which should be used to pursue happiness-making truth and not misery-producing error. Although God is the Creator of consciousness, the vitiated consciousness in man turns away from Him and tries to lure the soul to concentrate upon temporary pleasures of the senses. By contacting God first, you harness your will and activity to the right goal. As you cannot broadcast through a broken microphone, so must you remember that you cannot broadcast your prayers through a mental microphone that is disordered by restlessness.
Repair your mind microphone by practicing deep calmness. Then give God a real soul- call. Do not give up after only one or two broadcasts if He does not seem to respond. You cannot get an answer by just calling someone and then running away. Similarly, it is ineffective to pray once and then let the attention run away. Continuously broadcast your prayer to God through your calm mental microphone until you hear His answering voice. Most people pray in restlessness, and without the determination to receive a response. But if one guides his will with wisdom, his actions bring about good, for they are in tune with divine will, and divine will is guided by wisdom.
Wisdom-guided, self -initiated human will, and human will guided by God's wisdom-guided will, are one and the same thing. Thy will be done, " and with full knowledge submit to the betrayal that led to his crucifixion Matthew Many people misinterpret the real meaning of "Thy will be done, 'I and preach a most people are mentally lazy.
They are unwilling even to initiate creative thinking, or self -emancipating thinking, lest they succeed. Human will, however powerful, is still limited by the circumference of the body and the boundarie s of the physical universe. Man's will can initiate successful activities in the body, or on earth, or in finding out the mysteries of distant stars. But divine will has no boundaries; it works in all bodies, in all things. God said: "Let there be light, I' and there was light. God's will is working in everything. When by deep meditation and by wisdom-guided, unflinching, never discouraged determination we can successfully keep our volition revolving around all our noble desires, then our will becomes one with divine will.
Man's will ordinarily works within the boundaries of his own little circle of family, environment, world conditions, destiny, and prenatal and postnatal cause-and-effect governed actions. But divine dynamic volition can change destiny, wake the dead, move mountains into the sea, and divert the course of planets. You do not need to acquire this dynamic divine will.
You already possess it in the image of God within you. They swam for hours and hours, hoping to get out somehow; but the sides of the pail were steep and slippery, and death seemed certain. When the big frog was exhausted he lost courage. There seemed no hope of rescue. I can't swim any longer, " he moaned. Keep on! So they went on for awhile. But the big frog decided it was no use. Now only the little frog was left. He thought to himself, "Well, to give up is to be dead, so I will keep on swimming. Two more hours passed and the tiny legs of the determined little frog were almost paralyzed with exhaustion.
It seemed as if he could not keep moving for another minute. But then he thought of his dead friend, and repeated, "To give up is to be meat for someone's table, so I'll keep on paddling until I die--if death is to come--but I will not cease trying--'while there is life, there's hope! After awhile, just as he felt completely numb and thought he was about to drown, he suddenly felt something solid under him.
To his astonishment, he saw that he was resting on a lump of butter which he had churned by his incessant paddling! And so the successful little frog leaped out of the milk pail to freedom. Enter m,y shrine of meditation, O Bliss God! Sanctify me with Thy presence. Eternal Allah, hover over the lone minaret of my holy aspiration. The mosque of my mind exudes a frankincense of stillness.
On the altar of my inner vihara I place flowers of desirelessness. Their chaste beauty is Thine, O Spirit! In a tabernacle not made with hands, I bow before the sacred ark and vow to keep Thy commandments. Heavenly Father, in an invisible church built of devotion granite, receive Thou my humble heart offerings, daily renewed by prayer. Teach us to bow to Thee, manifesting in all churches and temples erected in Thine honor.
Most people who follow a variety of teachings stick to none. Their choices are usually influenced by curiosity and imitation, rather than by any logical reason or necessity. Such students like to listen perpetually to new ideas from new personalities, without ever making a personal effort to assimilate the ideas. They may be compared to one who sets out to reach a certain destination, but becomes so enamored with walking that he wanders here and there, forgetting all about his goal. Some students are led by curiosity to adopt a particular spiritual path, hoping to reach the destination of truth and wisdom; but they often become sidetracked by their insatiable curiosity.
As they keep trying new ways for the thrill of a change, they never reach their goal. These people are inter- ested in listening to spiritual truths, but not in making the effort to apply those truths in actual life and to realize them through experience, within the Self. Superficial seekers fail to get anywhere because they do not separate the kernel of truth from the chaff of untested beliefs. They imagine they under- stand the truth of different teachings, without even trying to feel the joyous experience that comes through Self-realization of truth.
Real students are satisfied only when they can realize truth within them- selves as a direct, personal experience. The difference between curiosity seekers and real seekers is that the former always seek new imaginary satis- factions or "thrills" from their studies. This seeming thirst for knowledge is an indication, more o. Real seekers test and compare until they find applicable truths that increase their realization. Let us draw our conclusions from the following illustration: When a dietitian eloquently expounds the wonderful results a particular system of diet will produce, Mr.
John who represents the average enthusi- astic but changeable faddist is inclined to be very much impressed. But if Mr. John continually puts off trying out that system of diet, he naturally loses interest in it as soon as the lecture series is over. But later on, when another dietitian visits town, Mr.
John is eager to listen to him, because he remembers the sense of enthusiasm and imaginary stimulation he felt while listening to the previous lectures about a system of dietetics. The chances are that once the second dietitian leaves town, Mr. John will not try out his system of diet either. Or perhaps Mr. John tries it for a little while, and then falls back into his old habit of eating ham sandwiches made with white bread, instead of cheese or egg sandwiches made with wholewheat bread, as might have been suggested by the dietitian.
John, being impelled by the theoretical desire to live right, thus develops the habit of listening to all the new dietitians that come to town, without ever following any of their instructions. John also develops the habit of going only to dietitians whose names and teachings are new to him--no matter what their value. He, of course, thinks he is smart and that he has "outgrown1' the best principles of dietetics prescribed by the first dietitian--even though such principles may have been better than the ones that have more recently aroused his enthusiasm.
He imagines he knows a great deal about the various systems of dietetics just because he has listened to various disconnected lectures on the subject. So long as listening to new principles of dietetics produces the desire and the necessary action to work them out in daily life, so long is it good for a per- son to listen to such lecturers; but every "Mr.
John" should remember he cannot follow all the systems of diet at the same time, and that he should not discard a good system for a lesser system of food science just because the latter happens to be new to him. Some students who have only theoretically tried different teachings are still seeking, instead of apply- ing in their lives the best teachings they have found.
They believe that they "know" all the principles just because they have heard them once, or because they put into practice a few of the principles for a little while. Such persons may be classed as curiosity seekers, and so long as they maintain this shal- low approach they will never taste the bliss of Self-realization. Accepting the shadow for the substance, they are like persons who are satisfied merely by listening to descriptions of orange blossom honey, given by different pro- ducers of the product, without ever tasting the honey itself.
Some people want to swallow every variety of food that is at hand, with- out giving the body a chance to assimilate any of it. This does not revitalize the system, it merely produces indigestion. Likewise, there are scriptural students who love to swallow good ideas without making them a part of their lives. Naturally, they suffer from theoretical indigestion.
One who has nothing to eat must seek anything at hand in order to satisfy his hunger; but when one has access to various kinds of food, he should discriminate as to what is the best kind of food. Also, if you are spiritually hungry and you do not find the right teacher --one who has attained Self-realization through true spiritual experience-- then you are justified, in the beginning, in trying to know truth through select books and lectures. But when you have experienced a little awakening, you will become increasingly hungry. At the same time you will find that your sources of spiritual food have multiplied.
Then you should select carefully, from among the many teachings, that system best adapted to your needs--and stick to it. Remember, if you are anxious to get to New York from Los Angeles, you do not spend half a lifetime trying out different kinds of conveyances such as bullock carts, horses and carriages, ships, automobiles, slow or fast air- planes; and in investigating the different long and short routes.
You select the shortest route and pick the safest and fastest conveyance available, and use these to reach your destination. Is any business more urgent than that of reaching, through Self-realiza- tion, the Source of all life? Then forsake habit-imposed theological beliefs that have proven to be blind alleys leading nowhere.
You cannot ride in the fast airplane of Self-realization and in the old theological bullock cart at the same time, any more than you could follow two contradictory, dogmatic, theological routes at the same time. The best way lies in selecting the short- e st route: the best technique of meditation. If you deeply, joyously, and con- tinuously practice the techniques contained in these Lessons, without deviating from these methods of practice, you will be taking the fastest "airplane" to God.
Many seekers fail to find Truth because they lose themselves in the forest of theology, moving from one thicket of theory to another until they feel utterly bewildered. Prove that you are a true seeker by determining now, from the very beginning, that you will give careful, practical attention to the techniques and principles you have judiciously selected; and that with the help of your chosen teacher, or guru, you will keep on learning and prac- ticing until you are able to see the results in yourself. The guru's help is important, for while you may find true religious principles expressed in good books, you can never realize their full meaning until you see them manifested in the life of an enlightened teacher.
Such a guru can help you when you are attuned to him, even though you are not in his presence. Now you are just starting on your journey toward the goal of Self-realiza- tion. True religion lies in conscious communion with God. The practice of religion should give you the joy of feeling God-conscious- ne ss. Concentrate on experiencing God's love, not on "miraculous" visions or demonstrations. Merge your consciousness into God-consciousness.
Once you have found God, He will tell you all that you need to know. The secret of true religion lies in the cave of stillness, in the cave of wisdom, in the cave of the spiritual eye. By concentration on the point between the eyebrows and by delving into the depths of silence, one can find answers to all the religious queries of the heart. The soul, descending from God into flesh, manifests its consciousness and life force through seven chakras, or centers of light, in man's cerebrospinal axis. These are the "seven stars" and "seven churches" spoken of by St.
John in the little-understood book of Revelation in the Bible. Encased in the bodily prison, the soul consciousness and life force become identified with the physical vehicle and its mortal limitations. Scientific med- itation awakens the soul consciousness in the seven cerebrospinal centers. In a state of divine recollectedness, the soul intuitively realizes its immortal nature and origin. In the most exalted states, soul and Spirit become reunited in ecstatic, blissful communion, or samadhi. By meditation, then, we connect the little joy of the soul with the vast joy of the Spirit.
Meditation should not be confused with ordinary concentration. Concentration consists in freeing the attention from distractions and in focusing it on any thought in which one may be interested. Meditation is that special form of concentration in which the attention has been liberated from restlessness and is focused on God. Meditation is concentration used to know God. The spine should be erect.
When the devotee is seeking to direct his mind and life force upward through the cerebrospinal axis to the centers of higher consciousness in the brain, he should avoid stricture or pinching of the spinal nerves caused by improper posture. Those persons whose legs are supple may prefer to meditate sitting cross- legged on a cushion on the floor, or on a firm bed.
However, Paramahansa Yogananda recommended for most Westerners the following meditation pose: Sit on a straight armless chair with the feet resting flat on the floor. Hold spine erect, abdomen in, chest out, shoulders back, chin parallel to the ground. The hands, with palms upturned, should rest on the legs at the juncture of the thighs and the abdominal region to prevent the body from bending forward.
The meditation chair shouldbe of comfortable height, otherwise there is a tendency to allow the torso to lean forward or backward. If the correct posture has been assumed, the body will be stable yet relaxed, so that it is easily possible to remain completely still, without moving a mus- cle. Each of the foregoing details is a contributing factor toward the chief aim of the meditation posture--an erect spine, held stable without strain or tension for the duration of the meditation period.
If, because of bad habits of posture or congenital defects of posture, you experience difficulty or dis- comfort in maintaining the specified positions of feet, hands, shoulders, chest, and abdomen, make whatever commonsense adjustments are necessary to your individual need; but strive always toward accomplishing the ideal posture recommended by Paramahansa Yogananda.
When you are established in the meditation pose, inhale slowly and deep- ly through the nostrils to a count of 20; hold the breath to a count of 20; exhale slowly through the mouth to a c ount of Practice this six to twelve times. A shorter count may be used, provided it is the same count in each of the three parts.
Then inhale, tensing the whole body and clenching the fists. Relax all the body parts at once and, as you do so, expel the breath through the mouth in a double exhalation, "huh, huh. Then forget the breath. Let it flow in and out naturally, of its own accord, as in ordinary breathing. With the eyelids half closed or completely closed, if this is more com- fortable to you , look upward, focusing the gaze and the attention as though looking out through a point between the eyebrows. A person deep in concentration often "knits" his brows at this spot.
Do not cross the eyes or strain them; the upward gaze comes naturally when one is relaxed and calmly concentrated. What is important is fixing the whole attention at the point between the eyebrows. When the purpose of meditation is fulfilled, the devotee finds his consciousness automatically concentrated at the spiritual eye, and he experiences, according to his inner spiritual capacity, a state of joyous divine union with Spirit. Making a steadfast effort, the beginner may in time perceive light, or even see the spiritual eye of three colors--a reflection of the actual luminous eye in the medulla oblongata at the base of the skull where it joins the neck.
This single eye of light reflected in the forehead is the astral eye of intuitive omnipresent perception. It takes deep concentration and calmness to behold the spiritual eye; a golden halo surrounding a circle of blue, in the center of which palpitates a five-pointed white star. Those who do see the spiritual eye should strive to penetrate it by deeper concentration and by devoted prayer to God.
The depth of calmness and concentration necessary for this are naturally developed through steady practice of the scientific SRF techniques of concentration and meditation Lessons 21 and Whether you see the light of the spiritual eye or not, however, you should continue to concentrate at the Christ Consciousness center between the eye- brows, praying deeply to God and His great saints. In the language of your heart invoke their presence and their blessings. A good practice is to take an affirmation or a prayer from the Lessons, or from Paramahansa Yoga- nandaji's "Whispers from Eternity" or "Metaphysical Meditations, " and spiritualize it with your own devotional yearning.
Silently chant and pray to God, keeping the attention at the point between the eyebrows, until you feel God's response as calm, deep peace and inner joy. In order to attune one's consciousness to it, it is necessary first to expand the mind by meditation on some aspect of God's infinite nature. Visualization is not realization; but visualization is an effective aid in deepening one's concentration, which is essential for the deep med itation that yields realization. The following exercise in visualization and mental expansion given by Paramahansa Yogananda will be found helpful in preparing the mind to practice the scientific techniques of meditation that are given in later Lessons: "Sit upright.
Focus your gaze and your mind at the Christ Consciousness center between the eyebrows. Fill your heart with joy. This sphere is enlarging. Now it is bigger than your body. Go on expanding the sphere of joy and light. Your home and everyone in it are pres- ent in the sphere of light that you are beholding. Go on expanding it until you see your whole city in this sphere of light and joy. Ever increasing, the sphere of light and joy is encompassing the entire United States, and still it is expanding, including Europe, Asia, the world!
See the world bathed in the light of this peaceful sphere of joy. The earth appears as a little ball moving in the vast sphere of light and joy. The sphere is becoming even larger; see!
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Meditate on and try to be one with that joy. God is joy, and we must find Him through joy. The scriptures say: 'Thou art That. Your Self is one with this vast sphere of light that is your Father. You are this sphere of light and joy! Meditate on that. You have no boundaries--eternity above, below, everywhere. In this eternal sphere of light and joy all things are moving.
Mentally affirm: 'In me worlds are floating like bubbles. I and my Father are One. Look at the body and see how little it is! Close your eyes and realize again that you are not the'body. You are the eternal sphere of light and joy in which all things have their being. Go on meditating, mentally affirming: 'I am the cosmic sphere of light, of joy, of love, in which worlds and universes are floating like bubbles.
My Father is this cos- mic sphere of light; my Father and I are One. I am not the body; I am the eternal sphere of light. If The soul is like a wave on the sea-bosom of Spirit. The soul wave is one with the Sea, but the wave is not the Sea. Through daily practice of the foregoing instructions, you can prepare yourself for the practice of the basic techniques of concentration and medita- tion that are given in later Self-Realization Fellow ship Lessons.
These scientific techniques will enable you to dive ever more deeply in the great ocean of God's presence. We all exist at this very moment in that ocean of Spirit; but only by steadfast, devoted, scientific meditation may we conscious ly perceive that we are individualized soul waves on the vast ocean of God's bliss.
The meditation period should last at least thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes at night. The longer you sit, enjoying the state of medi- tative calm, the faster you will progress spiritually. Carry into your daily activities the calmness you feel in meditation; that calmness will help you to bring harmony and happiness into every department of your life. Unending joy awaits the sincere truth seeker who conscientiously meditates each day.
Through the grace of God, through the blessings of the Masters, and through your own devotional effort you can achieve the state of divine joy experienced by all saints that have become established in the Lord that have become consciously aware of their soul unity with Spirit. Set aside a regular time and place for your daily practices of the spiritual techniques taught by Self-Realization Fellowship.
Try to find a quiet place where you can be free from outside distractions and thus be able to concentrate with more intensity. If possible, never use that place for any other purpose than meditation. Thus you will impregnate the spot with spiritual vibrations that will help you to make each day's meditation deeper than the meditation of the preceding day. Free my life from all obstacles of delusion, and lead me to Thy shores of fulfillment. Early morning, upon arising, and the period just before retiring at night are excellent times for meditation. Do not try to meditate just after eating.
Wait at least an hour if possible. The kind of food one eats also has a definite bearing on one's health or ill health, not only of the body but of the mind. Be sure the diet includes an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits. Eat nuts, cheese, eggs, and vegetable proteins in preference to meat. Fruits are the most spiritually beneficial of all foods.
It is good to use a woolen blanket or silk cloth or both, with the silk on top to cover your meditation seat. Drape the cloth over the back of the chair if a chair is used, and place one end of the cloth on the floor under your feet. The cloth helps to insulate the body from subtle earth currents. Their magnetic downward pull toward material perceptions is undesirable for the meditating devotee. The yogis have found, also, that facing East the direc- tion from which subtle spiritual solar currents are always flowing is helpful in meditation. Bathing has a cleansing effect not only on the body but also on the mind, and is therefor a beneficial practise before meditation.
Bathing opens the pores allowing toxins to escape; it also helps to distribute life energy evenly throughout the body, quieting the nerves and inducing calmness. One should also take a "mental bath" before meditation: put aside all worries and problems. Completely give to God the time you have set aside for meditation. Concentrate on one of His infinite aspects--Peace, Joy, Wisdom, Love, Light, Beauty--or on a personal aspect, such as that of the ever-loving, all-forgiving Divine Mother. Many devotees find inspiration by meditating on divine incar- nations of God such as Christ and the Masters.
Reading a devotional passage from "Whispers from Eternity" or "Metaphysical Meditations" or singing a devotional song from "Cosmic Chants" helps to uplift the mind. Practice of the Self-Realization Fellowship Energization Exercises-- and also certain yoga asanas body postures --is beneficial in preparing the body for deep meditation. The life forces in the body are harmonized by these relaxing and calming methods, and one's attention is freed from aches and pains and from the drowsiness or restlessness that keep the mind sense bound and body conscious.
Be regular in your meditations whether they be deep, or, in the begin- ning, restless. Be persistent if you would attract God's attention. Remem- ber that meditation should be practiced with devotion, with real love for God. Paramahansaji has said that love for God means craving for God. He cannot resist the magnetic attraction of human soul yearning.
Meditation techniques help you to awaken and whet that divine craving which will take you to the heights of realization, of soul union with God-Bliss. Resolve that you will never give up until He comes to you. Whether you realize it or not, He is listening to the cry of your heart. In His own time He will bestow the supreme gift of Himself. Is it the blending of two minds into a spacious one-mind? Is it the spouting of love founts together-- To strengthen the rush of love on droughty souls? Is it the one rose grown 'twixt twin mind-branchlets Of one compassionate stem?
Is it the one thinking in two bodies?
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Friendship is noble, fruitful, holy-- When two separate souls march in difference Yet in harmony, agreeing and disagreeing, Growing, improving diversely, With one common longing to find solace in true pleasure. When ne'er the lover seeks Self-comfort at the cost of the one beloved, Then, in that garden of selflessness Fragrant friendship perfectly flowers.
Ah, friendship! Flowering, heaven-born plant! Nurtured art thou in the soil of measureless love, In the seeking of soul-progress together By two who would smooth the way each for the other. And thou art watered by attention of affection And tender dews of inner and outer sweetness Of the inmost, selfless heart's devotion. Where thy soul-born flowers fall-- There on that sacred shrine of fragrance-- The Friend of all Friends craves to come and to remain!
Friendship is God's trumpet call, bidding the soul destroy the partitions of ego consciousness that separate it from all other souls and from Him. True friendship unites two souls so completely that they reflect the unity of Spirit and its divine qualities. True friendship is broad and inclusive. Selfish attachment to a single indi- vidual, excluding all others , inhibits the development of divine friendship.
Extend the boundaries of the glowing kingdom of your love, gradually including your family, your neighbors, your community, your country, all countries-all living sentient creatures. Be also a cosmic friend, imbued with kindness and affection for all God's creation, scattering love everywhere. Such is the example set by all avatars and saints. Consider no one a stranger.
Learn to feel that everybody is akin to you. Family love is merely one of the fir st exercises in the Divine Teacher's course in friendliness, intended to prepare your heart for all-inclusive divine love. Realize that the same lifeblood is circulating in the veins of all races. How may anyone dare to hate any other human being, of whatever race, when God lives and breathes in all? We are Americans or Hindus, or other nationalities, for just a few years, but we are God's children forever.
The soul cannot be confined within man-made boundaries. Its nationality is Spirit; its country is Omnipresence. All you need do is to be ready at all times to shed the light of friendly service over all living creatures whom you happen to meet. This attitude requires constant mental effort and preparedness; in other words, unselfishness. The sun shines equally on diamond and charcoal, but the former has developed qualities that enable it to reflect the sunlight brilliantly, while the latter is unable to reflect the sunlight.
Emulate the diamond in your dealings with people. Brightly reflect the light of God's love. To have friends, you must manifest friendliness. If you open the door to the magnetic power of friendship, souls of like vibrations will be attracted to you. The more friendly you become toward all, the greater will be the number of your real friends.
When perfect friendship exists either between two hearts or within a group of hearts in a spiritual relationship, such friendship perfects each individual. The heart purified by friendship provides an open door to unity. Tnrough it you should invite other souls to enter the temple of brotherhood--those who love you, and even those who love you not. Friendship should not be influenced by the relative positions of people. It may and should exist between lovers, employer and employee, teacher and pupil, parents and children, and others. God's effort to unite strife-torn humanity manifests itself within each heart as the friendship instinct.
Friendship consists in rejoicing in the good fortune of one's friends and in sympathizing with them in adversity. One who has given his friendship to another gladly foregoes selfish pleasures or self-interest for the sake of his friend's happiness, without consciousness of 10s s or sacrifice, and without counting the cost.
Jealousy is self-love and death to friendship. Human love and friendship have their basis in service on the physical, or mental, or business plane. They are conditional and may be short -lived. Blind friendship between selfish and unthinking per sons may end suddenly in blind hatred. Divine love has its foundation in service on the spiritual and intuitional planes, and is unconditional and everlasting. The greater the mutual service, the deeper the friendship. Why does Jesus have such a wide following? Because he, like other great masters, excelled in service to humanity. Hence to attract friends, one must possess the qualities of a real friend.
Help your friend by being a mental, aesthetic, and spiritual inspiration to him. Never be sarcastic to a friend. Do not flatter him unless it is to encour- age him. Do not agree with him when he is wrong. One who feels real friend- ship cannot witne ss with indifference his friend's indulgence in harmful pleasures. This does not mean one should pick a quarrel.
Suggest mentally, or if your advice is asked, give it gently and lovingly. Unwise persons argue. Friends discuss their differences. Far better to conquer by love the heart of a person who hates you than to vanquish him by vindictive force. To the ordinary man such a doctrine seems absurd. His first impulse is to return two slaps for the one he has received--and to add a kick for good measure! Why should you love your enemy? In order that you may bring the healing rays of your love into his dark, hatred-stricken heart. When friendship is so released, it can behold itself as pure golden love.
Thus will the flame of your love burn away the partitions of hatred and misery that separate your soul from other sds, and that separate all unenlightened souls from the vast sea of Infinite Love. Practice loving those who do not love you. Feel for those who do not feel for you. Be generous to those who are generous only to themselves. If you heap hatred upon your enemy, neither he nor you will be able to perceive the inherent beauty of your soul. Avoid doing anything that brings harm to yourself or to another.
If you are self-indulgent, or if you encourage a friend in his vices, you are an enemy disguised as a friend. Be true to yourself and to others, and you will gain the friendship of God. Once you make your love felt in other people, it will expand until it becomes the one Cosmic Love that flows through all hearts.