Sunday, February 19, 2012

From ‘Meditation. Translate Spiritual Ideals into Daily Life’ by Eknath Easwaran

Saint Francis de Sales explains, “Even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour [of meditation] but bring your mind back and place it again in our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you bought it back, your hours would be very well employed.”

……… Today you may have to bring it back fifteen times, perhaps thirty. But in three years, you may bring it back only a few times; in six years, perhaps twice; in ten years, not at all.

Buddha opened his Dhammapada with the magnificent line, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought..”

The best time for meditation is early in the morning. In a tropical country like India, “early” has to be very early – sometimes three o’clock in traditional ashrams. But in a milder climate, I would say between five and six is a reasonable hour to begin, depending on your schedule.

For those beginning to meditate, half an hour is the requisite period. Less than that will not be enough; more than that may be hazardous.

The scriptures say that the place of mediation should be calm, clean, and cool. I would add, well-ventilated – and, if possible, quiet. If there are spiritual figures who appeal to you deeply – Jesus, the Buddha ……. – have a picture of one or two. But otherwise the place should be very simple, even austere, not cluttered with furniture and other things.

The correct posture for meditation is to sit erect with the spinal column, the nape of the neck, and the head in a straight line: not like a ramrod, rigid and tense, but easily upright. Your hands may be placed anyway they feel comfortable. ………

The human mind is rather like the trunk of an elephant. It never rests …….. most of the time it wanders at large, simply because we do not know how to keep it quiet or profitably engaged.

But what should we give it to hold on to? For this purpose I recommend the systematic repetition of the mantram, which can steady the mind at any time and in any place …… man, “the mind,” and tri, “to cross”. The mantram, repeated regularly for a long time, enables us to cross the sea of the mind.

……. Mantrams have different sounds and come from diverse traditions. But essentially they all do the same thing; turn us away from our dependency on what lies outside …… to the serenity and goodness within our own being. ….. Please exercise some care in your choice of a mantram. After all, it will be with you for a long time. Deliberate for a while and take into account the practical significance of the words, your religious background, and your personal response. ……. I strongly urge you to choose a mantram that has been sanctified by long use – one of proven power, that has enabled many men and women before you to realize the unity of life. ……. The mantram works best when we repeat it silently in the mind with as much concentration as possible.

Between the last waking moment and the first sleeping moment, a tunnel stretches down deep into consciousness. Most people do not perceive this subtle state; indeed, you cannot be aware of it with everyday mind. At that instance, when you are neither awake nor asleep, this tunnel opens up, and if you know how, you can send the mantram down it as you might a bowling ball. The proof is that you may hear the mantram during sleep; when an unpleasant dream begins, you may discover the mantram echoing through consciousness, dissolving that dream completely.

…….. After a long while, the mind builds up sensational strength and has a permanent hold on the mantram.

In this glorious state, the mantram repeats itself ceaselessly without any effort whatsoever. ….. Sanskrit has a precise word for this state: ajapajapam. Japam alone means “the repetition of the mantram,” and a means “without”: ajapajapam is japam without having to do japam. You receive all the benefits without having to do the work.

Buddha ……… “When you are walking, walk. When you are standing, stand. When you are sitting, sit. Don’t wobble.”

The Sufis …… advise us to speak only after our words have managed to issue through three gates. At the first gate, we ask ourselves, “Are these words true?” If so, let them pass on; if not, back they go.

At the second gate, we ask, “Are they necessary?” They may be true, but it doesn’t follow that they have to be uttered; they must serve some meaningful purpose. Do they clarify the situation or help someone? Or do they strike a discordant or irrelevant note?

At the last gate we ask, “Are they kind?” If we still feel we must speak out, we need to choose words that will be supportive and loving, not words that embarrass or wound another person. ….. we do not realize that words can created a more painful injury, one that can last for many years.

Friday, February 17, 2012

From ‘Amma. A Living Saint’ by Judith Cornell

Sudhamani [Amma] said, “There are six chakras, or centers of spiritual power in the human body. The vital life force [Kundalini shakti] that flows through all living beings is called serpent power, and it rests below the base of the spine in the form of a coiled, sleeping female snake.”

“When this power is awakened, through incessant meditation, it ascends through the spine, passing through the chakras. When each chakra is reached, the physical body can suddenly become hot, and the person may start to sweat profusely. He or she may also have visions, both divine and earthly. When the serpent power has transcended all six chakras, it rises to the top of the head – to the crown chakra. At that moment the body suddenly experiences a refreshing coolness as it is transformed into a new vessel of tremendous spiritual power.”

“The body has a sheath or an aura. Just as a tape recorder records everything we say, our aura records our every thought vibration. And this recording remains even after we have died. When we commit suicide, we are causing the soul much pain.”

“When the opening of a blown-up balloon is untied, the air in it is gradually released. But when we prick a balloon and it bursts, it explodes with a bang. So too when we forcefully end our own life, sudden pain-filled vibrations will be formed in our aura. This aura forms the basis for the next birth of the soul in a body. All that we are experiencing now is the result of our past actions. Understanding this, we should move forward in life, surrendering to God whatever we have to experience.”

From ‘Out on the Limb’ Shirley MacLaine

“Never utter these words: ‘I do not know this, therefore it is false.’ One must study to know: know to understand: understand to judge.”

- Apothegm of Narada

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

- Hamlet

“Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world, all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty of reality”


Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist

“It is very difficult to explain this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it. The individual feels the nothingness of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. He looks upon individual existence as a sort of prison and wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.”


The World As I See It

“There is a principle which is proof against all information, which is proof against all arguments, which cannot fail to keep a main in everlasting ignorance; that principle is contempt, prior to investigation.”


“I maintain that cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest incitement to scientific research.”


The World As I See It

“It is immediately apparent … that this sense-world, this seemingly real external universe, though it may be useful and valid in other respects, cannot be the external world, but only the self’s projected picture of it … The evidence of the senses cannot be accepted as evidence of the nature of ultimate reality.”