Posts Tagged With: My Yoga Journey
How to deal with an enemy?
Asked a disciple.
How must I know I don’t have any?
Replied Anidra, and he giggled.
There was a beauty in his giggles.
When he giggled, his whole being giggled.
Then he spoke again:
The worldly ways are many,
that people choose.
Pick up a sword.
But the way of Spirit is only one.
Don’t have an enemy.
What do others think of you?
It shouldn’t be your concern.
What do you think of them?
if you are fixed
in the world
or in your Spirit.
Sun has no choice
but to shine.
Spirit has no choice
but to love.
Last evening, after Sage Anidra spoke on God’s love, he played a song on his flute:
If you can slow down
your mind’s noise,
you will hear
I love you!
I love you!
Whatever your past,
it doesn’t matter.
This is your moment,
make it better.
But still, it doesn’t matter.
I love you!
I love you!
I love you now.
For you, my love,
there will always be
I love you!
I love you!
Do you wish to be awakened?
When you are asleep,
She holds you in her arms.
When you are awake,
She goes away to the farms.
“Krishan ji …I have been practicing and teaching yoga for several years, but at times, I feel stuck and frustrated for not being able to maintain discipline and implement knowledge in my life. Please advise.”
Most yoga seekers face this frustration and either give up the journey or continue it but remain stuck in frustrations. Some of the reasons for frustrations are; Unrealistic expectations, wrong understanding of knowledge, and inability to be at ease with the shortcomings and imperfections.
I have been singing and playing flute and harmonium for over 40 years. I should be a pretty good musician by now, but I am not. On the contrary, I am still at the rudimentary level.
About 40 years ago, my favorite flutist, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, came to Halifax to perform. I was lucky to be able to meet him alone. I had taken my flute with me and requested him for a few tips. He asked me to play something. I played a short song. He told me a couple of things, and then, to my surprise, he took out his flute and played the same piece. It sounded a million times better. Foolishly, I asked him how long it would take for me to play like that? He replied, ‘keep practicing’.
I do not lack interest, sincerity, and effort, but still, my progress has been very slow. There are two reasons for it. I didn’t have the opportunity to learn music properly, and the primary hindrance for me has been my inability to understand and grasp music. Even after listening to a simple tune hundreds of times, I can’t capture and remember it correctly. My three-year-old granddaughter can remember and sing a song so naturally. She already has hundreds of songs in her head. She has music in her. I love music, but I don’t have it in me. I am almost tone-deaf. As a result, despite many years of sincere effort, my music remains rudimentary and filled with imperfections.
But does it frustrate or discourage me, or do I feel stuck? Not at all. On the contrary, my passion for music keeps growing. Playing music is a joy and fun for me. While I continue to make an effort to improve, I don’t have a desire to be a great musician. I am at ease with my limitations to learning music and imperfections in my music.
This inability to grasp, understand and sustain is one of the major obstacles that most spiritual seekers face. In modern-day spirituality, there seems to be a feverishness to learn and achieve quickly. People jump into the deeper waters of spirituality without learning to swim correctly in shallow waters. Within a very short time, they get exposed to multitudes of scriptures and practices, which leads to an incorrect understanding of spiritual knowledge and a struggled discipline.
To bring joy to your spirituality, you must do self-study to recognize your limitations and imperfections and be at ease with them while making an effort to improve them. The scriptures and stories of great sages are there for you to show a path that has no end. How far you will reach, you don’t know. But because you aim for the end, your inability to reach there frustrates you. Your high spiritual ambitions and expectations, combined with your worldly aspirations and responsibilities, can lead to confusion and frustrations.
So, be kind to yourself. Slow down. Recognize your shortcomings honestly, and be at ease with them while improving them Are you struggling with your meditations and keep craving for more profound experiences? Sing and dance more instead. Do you keep striving for more body flexibility? Know that it’s not a spiritual accomplishment. Be at ease with your body. Relax your discipline. Give Ashtavakra a break. Don’t keep wrestling to understand Him. Instead, celebrate Him in your heart.
My inability to understand and play music has been a blessing for me. It has shown me that joy lies even in imperfections. It has taught me to be at ease with my weaknesses. It has expanded my oneness as I am at ease with others’ shortcomings.
I don’t understand music, but I feel the music. I feel life’s beauty without wanting to understand life. Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia says that Lord Krishna plays through him when he plays the flute, I believe him. When I listen to his music, I feel Krishna. What a blessing!
Gopal and Leela were a happily married couple with their four-year-old son, Hari. They had a farm in the same village where Sage Andra’s ashram was. They had developed closeness toward Anidra. They worked hard, especially Leela. She was the strength of the family and the whole village. She inspired people to work hard. She would tell them that working hard was the secret to being worry-free and that God had gifted them with bodies and minds which they must use sincerely and wisely; otherwise, they would be dishonoring God. She was very cheerful and would add playfulness to her work. She was the village’s pride, everyone from young to old adored her.
Gopal, like Leela, also inspired villagers to be self-sufficient and independent. He would tell them that there was nothing worse than a capable person becoming reliant on others and that without self-effort, believing in God was meaningless. He would inspire people to be proud of themselves but without becoming arrogant.
Gopal and Leela would often go to the ashram. Gopal liked being around Anidra, whereas Leela would spend more time with Anidra’s cow, Maan Bhagavati. She would bathe her, feed her, and sometimes even put some jewelry and makeup on her. She would then show her a mirror, and they both would have a good laughter. Maan would teach Leela singing. When they sang together, it sounded angelic and celestial.
One of their favorite songs was ‘Just Like Him.’
When I see you,
I perceive Divine
It’s my fortune
I feel you are mine
For sure, I know
you are just like Him
Whenever I see you
My heart sings you a hymn
You walk like Him
You talk like Him
Without a doubt
you are every inch like Him.
Nothing more I want
Nothing more I need
You are the complete gift
I have received.
Sadly, a few days ago, Gopal fell critically ill. Within a short period, his health began to deteriorate rapidly. Doctors couldn’t diagnose the cause of his sickness, and no medicine was working. He had become bedridden and very frail. The whole village was sorrowful. The villagers would gather around Gopal’s house and pray for his recovery. Many would fast all day, hoping that their sacrifices would help Gopal. But nothing helped. Leela would spend all day being with Gopal and looking after him. She stopped meeting people as she didn’t want to discuss Gopal’s condition anymore. She had even stopped going to the ashram. Hari didn’t understand what was happening, but he just wanted to be around his abba.
All eyes now turned to Anidra. They believed in him. Gopal’s parents and a few others would go to the ashram daily and request Anidra for his blessings for Gopal’s recovery. Anidra would remain compassionately silent. At times, Gopal’s parents would insist that Leela come along with them as they felt that Leela was very close to him and he would certainly bless her. But Leela would refuse to go. She would tell them,” Anidra knows Gopal is sick. He loves Gopal. I don’t need to ask him for anything.”
Leela remembered what Anidra had said once,” God is not partial that He blesses one and not another. Having more doesn’t mean one is more blessed. Having less means that your turn to have more will come again. The wheel continues. The rich will become poor again, and the poor will become rich again. Have compassion for those who have less. Someday you will need their compassion. Neither a long life is a blessing, nor a short life is a misfortune. See both as this is how it is. Have the courage to flow with life. Life is beautiful. So is death. It takes you back from the skin to Soul. Rise above the blessings. Instead, love God. Those who love do not seek blessings.”
Leela believed in love. Seeing God in all, she loved all. Anidra’s words and her love for all were her strength.
Earlier today, Anidra and Maan had come to see Gopal. The villagers became hopeful that their presence would heal Gopal. They prayed to them for their blessings. When Anidra went inside the house, Maan stood outside near a window to see Gopal. Gopal was unconscious, but it was apparent from some movement in his eyes and hands that he could feel their presence. Anidra sat on Gopal’s bed and held his hand. Anidra carried Hari in his lap. Looking down, Leela sat on the floor. There were tears in her eyes and sighs in her breath. She knew it was time for farewell.
Later that day, Gopal passed away. Anidra heard the loud cries. He asked people at the ashram to arrange for Gopal’s cremation. One corner of his ashram was used as the cremation ground for the village. Anidra would attend every funeral and ask people to meditate on the reality of life while the body was being burned.
Gopal’s body was brought there, and after a few rituals, it was set on fire. Soon the fire was in full blaze. Some people stood there crying. Some sat there meditating. Anidra sat on the ground, watching the flames. Maan asked Leela to follow her as she went around the fire a few times while chanting Om.
When the flames began to subside, Leela asked one of the villagers to bring Hari there. When Hari came there, seeing the fire and so many people there, some still crying, he got scared and cried loudly. Leela held him tightly close to her heart.
After a few minutes, Hari looked around and asked Leela where abba was? Leela pointed to his heart and then her heart and said, ” In our hearts.” She held him tightly, as closely as she could.
The next day Leela was back on the fields. In the evening, she and Hari came to the ashram. Seeing her, Anidra said to Maan, ” Leela is God’s dignity!”
Modifying A Yoga Posture
There are many ways to modify a posture that you may find challenging. By listening to your body, you can try different ways, including using the props, and see what works for you. Whatever method you use, be careful not to distort the balance and alignment on both sides of the body.
The three main reasons for not being able to do a posture are; 1) lack of flexibility, 2) lack of strength and 3) natural structure of your skeleton. One or more of the above reasons can limit your range of motion. In any posture that is difficult for you, don’t try to go into the full range of the movements needed to do the posture; otherwise, you will distort the posture and cause misalignment and imbalance in the body.
An easy and simple way to do a challenging posture is to reduce the range of movement. Go into the posture only as far as you can go comfortably without distorting it. Hold it there for 15-20 seconds while paying attention to the correctness of the posture, and then try to go a little further. Slowly and gradually increase the range of movements. Do many repetitions of the same movement and gradually increase the holding time.
Break down a posture into various steps and then practice step-by-step. Instead of feeling frustrated for not being able to do the posture, feel good for doing even one or two steps. This will encourage you to take the next step.
It is important that you learn to do the simple postures correctly first and increase their holding time to 30-60 seconds. This can be very helpful in advancing your asana practice.
If you can’t do certain postures, don’t worry about it. There are many more that you can do. Take the struggle out of your practices. Make your best effort but without struggling. Add some easiness, fun, and joy to your practice.
“Sthira sukham asanam.” Sage Patanjali.
Add stability and joy to your practice.
Oneness and Non-duality
Creation is not an illusion.
It is a view of God.
By honoring the Seeable,
I experience the Unseeable.
Dear Krishanji. Isn’t the oneness you talk about the same as the Advaita (Non-duality) Philosophy?
Life doesn’t have a specific definition. Your experiences define your life. Similarly, the Truth can’t be defined in one way. Within one absolute Truth lie innumerable other truths. That’s why there are so many religions, sects, Gurus, philosophers, scriptures, etc.
The Advaita philosophy is primarily based on two principles; 1) This creation is transit and illusory, and 2) All is Consciousness ( Brahman), and you and I are nothing but Consciousness.
The oneness that I talk about is not a philosophy. It is a responsible and holy way of living. It comes from my personal experiences. It started with my experience of oneness with Guru Nanak Dev over 40 years ago, a story that I have shared before. Over time, it has blossomed into a simple, meaningful, and sacred way of living.
My oneness sees the creation as real. For me, you are not an illusion; you are an actual divine being. It is easier for me to love and honor you when I see you as real. If I see life as an illusion, it raises many questions; the answers and explanations don’t satisfy me.
I have the highest regard for Advaita philosophy, but my experiences have led me to the truth that all that is is real. My relationships are real. My pains & pleasures, successes & failures, and anger & greed are real. My yogic wisdom is real. My whole being and past & present are real. All are undoubtedly transient and temporary, but they are real. I must gather courage and wisdom to serve the reality.
When you say that God exists in every particle and also say that every particle is an illusion, this contradiction becomes difficult to understand, and that’s why there are so many books that try to explain it.
In my oneness, all is God, and all are real. There are no contradictions. Lord Krishna says,” I am the Sun. I am the Moon. I am the sacred fire. I am everything.” In my oneness, I don’t see Sun and Moon as an illusion. I see them as Krishna. So simple!
My oneness is the practice of taking full responsibility for your whole being and honoring it. It’s the practice of peeling off the layers of concepts and judgments that limit your vision. It’s the practice of seeing the creation as real and honoring it by taking care of it. It’s the practice of not trying to understand the creation and Creator but to be with them in oneness. This oneness is not a concept; it is an attainable goal. You will never know God but in oneness, you can be with Him.
This song of oneness vibrates in my being and is the heart of all my courses. It’s a gift to me from my Gurus!
Remaining With Your Self, a note to my students.
An accomplished musician walks with his music. A dance master keeps creating dance in his mind. A businessman keeps his eyes on the money.
Similarly, a seeker must remain with his Self.
A father enrolled his son in soccer classes. The son would go on the soccer field but he would run back to his father every few seconds as he felt more secure there. This went on for some time. Finally, the teacher told him that if he wanted to learn soccer, he must stay here and not run back to his father. The father also told him the same.
Similarly, a seeker must learn to remain with the Self and not keep running back to the mind. Without this, it doesn’t matter how advanced one becomes on the spiritual path; the real progress remains insignificant. One always remains infinitely far from Infinity.
The term ‘spiritual journey’ is very misleading. It implies that you have to go somewhere. In the process of going somewhere, you end up losing something very precious; simplicity.
Is there a place and time when God is not there? He is here, now, and every moment. Can you be here now with your Self, the life in you; this moment, and next, and next again? Is this that hard? Is there anything more to understand? But you forget this simplicity again and again. Instead, you keep running back to your mind. That’s where you feel secure, like the son who felt more secure being with his father. You feel more comfortable in your thoughts, concepts, judgments, and desires. So, you keep running back to your mind, even during your meditation. With your mind, you remain determined to understand God and your Self, although you know that you will neither understand nor know the Truth, neither by reading Books nor by yogic practices.
To advance on the spiritual path, you have to return to this simplicity of remaining with your Self. By being here with your Self now, and the next moment, and the next, you are traveling with your Spirit. That’s what makes your journey a spiritual journey. Then you can read Books, not to understand them, but for the glory of the Books. Then you can do your practices, not to advance, but to become simpler.
The soccer child grew up to become an excellent soccer player because he spent lots of his time on the soccer field. He knew that that was the only way. Likewise, the only way to grow spiritually is to remain with your Self. So simple!
While you are on your spiritual journey, cultivate some of the above qualities in you.
Then you will also become the fruit of the Spirit.
Your Panchakosha, a Beautiful Gift!
Like your house has many different rooms for various functions; similarly, your whole-being has five sheaths that serve different functions. The five sheaths (body, prana sheath, mind, intellect, and blissful sheath) together are called Panchakosha. Like you have a house, but you are not the house; similarly, you have a Panchakosha, but you are not the Panchakosha. Certain parts of your house, such as walls and ceilings, are visible, and certain parts such as foundation, pipes, and wires, etc., are hidden. Similarly, your body is the only visible sheath, the other four sheaths are subtle and hidden.
Your Panchakosha requires regular care, and it’s your responsibility to take care of it properly. Each sheath requires a different type of care, which you must learn. If everyone knew how to take care of their Panchakoshas and took responsibility for taking care of them, everyone would be much healthier and happier.
All sheaths of all Panchakosha are made up of the one and same Consciousness. The only difference is in the shape and form of the first sheath, the body. All invisible sheaths in all beings are the same. What makes one Panchakosha nicer than the other is how you take care of it.
Taking proper care of your Panchkosha makes you a nicer person. Becoming a nicer person is essential for maturing on the spiritual path.
If I am not the Pacnchakosha, who am I then, you may ask? The books tell you that you are Consciousness, but you must find your own answer, which you cannot do without becoming a nicer person first.
Take proper care of your Panchakosha. It’s a gift to you from God. It’s a vehicle that takes you around and brings you back home when you truly desire.