The Spiritual Aspect of Life

It is neither my intention nor is it possible to appraise you about a great subject which was discovered by your rishis many thousands of years ago and which has recently since three or four decades surprised the man of the technological era. Where the modern medical science has not been able to relieve and the modern science of psychology and psychotherapy has failed, this science has made a way into every land and has completely broken the barriers of cult, creed, religion, nationality including agnosticism. It is a very important subject for all of you to know and to practise.

I have not come here to teach you, not even to inspire you, but to remind you that your country needs citizens first, and everything next. In order to have the quality of citizenship you must have the quality of mind. Man is the mind he has. You project your mind into your daily life and that is what your society is. In order to restructure the mind and personality in the last few thousand years no other science has been evolved. Western countries have done their level best to develop the personality, but all the sciences have now failed. We have hope in yoga. This will definitely do something good to you and to your community.

It is not merely a set of exercises which you may know as yogasana or hatha yoga, which is only one branch of yoga not the whole of yoga, and which should be practised. When I talk about yoga, I mean an integral approach, an integral system. All those aspects of yoga which look after the body, mind, emotion and your spiritual life are the practices woven around what you call dhyana yoga, meditation. It is the centre, the focus, and it is through meditation that you begin to create a change in the quality of your feelings and reaction.

When we talk about dhyana yoga we are definitely talking about the whole yoga. Yoga postures, asanas, mudra, bandha, pranayama are all steps to yoga. They should be practised not because they are exercises that give you a lot of dynamism, but because they bring about a change in the order of the hormones and glands in the body. It will be wrong for everybody to understand yoga as a physical training, where you develop biceps and triceps. Yogasanas and exercises are two different schools and branches.

Asanas have immediate effects on the nervous system and endocrine glands, and thereby change the pattern of emotions, fear and anxieties and at times physical sickness also. Those of you who might be having difficulty with your studies, or personal emotional difficulties, or some sort of crisis in your personal character, should remember that there could be a sort of imbalance in the glandular endocrine secretions. Excess of thyroid, adrenaline, or excess of secretions from the posterior pituitary could completely change your personality and make you a criminal or a terrorist. Therefore, your inability to concentrate on studies, or your terrorist nature, timid or cowardly nature could be just an effect of the imbalances in the endocrine system.

How do you correct it? Investigations made so far prove that through the practice of yogasana you can eliminate those imbalances. Sarvangasana can awaken the dormancy of the thyroid gland. Shashankasana improves the adrenal secretion and thereby complexes such as fear of darkness, or respiratory problems are cured.

What is important in dhyana yoga? It is not just sitting down quietly or trying to forget everything around you. When you try to meditate or practise dhyana, the awareness of the object, the idea and form must be maintained constantly, and you must see that there is no interruption. When there is one idea it is called ekagrata, one-pointedness. When there is more than one idea alternating in the mind from time to time it is called vikshepa, distraction. When your mind does not at all stick to one idea, but keeps on jumping from one idea to another idea never comes back to the first idea that is called schizophrenia. That is going to be the disease of your century. In order to heal the sick mind, improve the quality of thinking, feeling, intelligence and memory. You will have to select for yourself one object and with that object, you should practise concentration every day at least for ten minutes.

If you find it difficult to concentrate your mind on one object do not fight with yourself, but practise pranayama. Many times it is difficult for us. The mind keeps wandering like a wild dog or monkey, you cannot control it. If you try to control it you get a headache, become depressed or full of tension. At that time, you must try to practise pranayama. Pranayama is a method in which you create certain influences in the brain with the help of breathing.

Pranayama is a breathing technique which seems to have something to do with the lungs and heart, but more than that it has to do with the brain. The breath which you take with the left nostril and the breath which you take in the right nostril, at the time of breathing in and out, create definite movements and vibrations found in the brain. The practices of breathing are a kind of exercise you are giving to your brain, just as you do exercise for biceps and triceps. The muscles in the brain have to be given some sort of exercise which is provided through pranayama.

Scientific studies have shown that the breath through the left nostril effects the right hemisphere and the breath through the right nostril effects the left hemisphere of the brain. This is just a glimpse I am giving you as to how pranayama can bring about balance in your brain and through that balance you can meditate every day.

I just came here to give you a short message. I have been touring around the world for the last so many years. I move on every day. This is my life. I feel that the world is incomplete without the science of yoga and particularly the modern world, which has developed the external man, the material aspect of life, but has neglected the spiritual or internal aspect of life. People have lost faith in many good things like morality because they ultimately find that it does not pay at all. At this time, when the whole of society in every country and in every religion is facing a crisis, there is one thing that can bring about revival. That is yoga.

Scientists, doctors, educationists, social reformers everywhere talk about yoga and say that the time has come when yoga has to be introduced in our day-to-day life. As a national education you will have to find the way to learn. It is the duty of the elders and wise men of the country to say openly to the people, “Look here, if you want to survive as a human being, if you want your society or nation to survive, then you will have to practise yoga.”

Yoga should not be associated with renunciation. There is no renunciation as such. Swami Vivekananda renounced but he worked much more than any professor, teacher, doctor or leader. The people who seem to have renounced the world have actually renounced their personal, petty life. They rededicated themselves to total work, to karma yoga. Yoga is therefore meant for a social and cultural revival.

I practise TM and recently have undergone their advanced siddhi program. But still I am aware of outside sounds.

When we meditate we are dealing with the relationship between three points in personality: the senses, the mind and the spirit or awareness. First the mind has to be detached and isolated from the sensorial channels which is called pratyahara. When pratyahara has been established and when chitta or chetana has been isolated and external factors do not disturb the mind anymore, then it has to be concentrated on a point.

When you concentrate the mind on one point there is triple awareness: you, the act of concentration and the object of con- centration. Soon after that, this triple awareness dwindles. From time to time there is an object and awareness of yourself, and that happens to be with you for a very long time. Otherwise the awareness of a single object or singular awareness, ekagrata, continues.

This ekagrata, the singular awareness, continues up to some time, then the object is also withdrawn. You lose the awareness of the object and begin to be aware of yourself. Not the form, not this person in relation to time and space – you can call it ‘aham’. Aham means cosmic awareness or atmanubhuti, it has many names or no name.

It is better to strive on until the point where the singular awareness comes. When you are concentrating on the light of a candle, only the light of the candle must exist and everything else, even the seer has to disappear. You have to disappear, awareness of the witness. Later the light also disappears and awareness remains. That awareness is called unqualified awareness, nirguna chaitanya. What is qualified awareness? When I sit I am aware, but I am aware in relation to my body, to time and space. That is called qualified awareness.

In meditation should one concentrate or allow the thoughts to express themselves?

Western countries do not have a culture or tradition like meditation. Their culture is based on doing what the mind tells you to do. This country has a very old culture from the time of the Vedas, maybe thirty-five thousand or forty thousand years ago. You are initiated in a culture which is based on self- control at every moment. I am not talking about superiority or inferiority of a culture. It is not a question of superiority; it is a question of dealing with the mind.

Another point that comes to my mind is to be sensible. When you concentrate the sunrays through a magnifying glass it gets the power to burn anything. Not only a magnifying glass there are so many factors nowadays. Laser beams are created and when energy is concentrated it becomes so powerful. Mind is energy. It is not psychological stuff. Like energy, it is positive and negative, has voltage, frequency, amperes and vibrations. This energy can be concentrated. When you take mind as psycho- logical stuff based on the definition of western psychology, then do not suppress it. When the mind is positive energy and negative energy, shakti, it has current, can move out of the mind and travel into space. It has an area, a field like an electric magnetic and radioactive field. Mind has a field like a magnet. You can concentrate this mind and make it very powerful. You can make it more powerful as you magnify the sunrays or as you collect water. When you collect water from different channels it may become so powerful that you can have hydroelectric generators.

Mind should never be considered as thought. Thought, good or bad, is not mind, emotion is not mind, passion is not mind, memory is not mind. They are manifestations of energy. This fan and this microphone is not electricity. Electricity is the current which flows in all this. Mind is the energy, speech, thought, perception, smelling, audition, knowledge and concentration is also the product. Sometimes if there are some difficulties you can give some sort of relaxation to the idea. However, we have got so many other methods like pranayama. If pranayama does not help you, do asanas. If asanas do not help you, do kriya yoga. If kriya yoga does not help do kirtan, chanting or singing.

4 February 1982, Sourashtra College, Madurai, Tamil Nadu