Sanskrit has many deep and beautiful words. One of them is ‘Dharma’.
Dharma is not an ideology of a group, a particular religion or a philosophy. It is not any ‘ism’. Dharma is the intrinsic, original nature or quality. On a personal level, it could also be translated as duty, but infact dharma is not duty. Dharma is the intrinsic quality, the essential property. For instance, fire burns because its dharma is hotness; that is its essential quality.
Now what is the essential nature, what is the dharma of human beings? Human dharma is Truth. It is Satchidananda: Existence, Consciousness, Bliss. It is Sathyam, Shivam, Sundaram, Truth, Auspiciousness, Beauty. Yes indeed, these qualities make up our dharma; they make up our True Nature. But we live in oblivion of our True Nature; we forget the innate bliss and peace that we are. Instead, we experience ourselves full of stress, attachment, greed, jealousy. It even looks as if these things are our true nature.
But this cannot be. Why not? These things are additions; they are not identical with our True Nature.
Our True Nature cannot be apart from what we are. Our True Nature is always with us. Our True Nature is us. The bad things are just like dust on a mirror — they are coverings. The mirror always has the capacity to reflect, but sometimes it is completely covered by dust. In a way, it then ‘forgets’ to reflect. It is the same with us: we cannot lose our True Nature, but we can forget what we are.
Why is this? Since birth, we are trained to continuously look outside, so we get a lot of outside information and impressions
that stick to us.
Look at a spider. The spider makes a web. She hangs in it; she sometimes even enjoys it by using it as a swing. But if she continues to create a thicker and thicker web, she herself will get entangled in it and then, just like the flies she catches, she will die. It is the same with us. We are directed outwards. We enjoy outer things and activities. But more and more, we become entangled in them. We get stuck. We suffocate.
But our Real Nature, our dharma, is not lost.
It is still there. Our inner freedom is still there. It is us; it can never be apart from us. Impurities came, so they can also go. But dharma is our nature; it never came, so it will never go away. Suppose we follow a certain spiritual practise. If during this practise we focus deeply on the prayer we are reciting or on the mantra we are repeating, to a certain extent our mind will get diverted from our impurities. That’s why there are many ways to become pure, to become free. Many siddhantas, or traditional teachings, emphasize Nishkama Karma yoga. Nishkama Karma yoga is acting without self-interest. Acting, performing karma with self-interest makes us greedy.
For this reason, Lord Krishna said: ‘While acting, don’t focus on the fruit, don’t hanker after the result. Give importance to karma, to action itself; don’t give importance to the outcome, to the result.’
Suppose the fruit doesn’t come, then you are not upset because you are focused on the karma, on the activity. But most people are focused on the outcome. They even say: we like to do less but expect even more positive results from our actions! Nishkama karma is the antidote to this. It is the methodology to become free from attachments. Then you will have less anger, less fear, less jealousy. So Nishkama Karma yoga sets you free from impurities and bad things.
Another genuine approach to spirituality is Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. Suppose you receive a mantra from your guru. Then repeat or chant it with devotion. Take Sri Chaitanya (1486–1533) as your example. He was always chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Rama,… the mantra he received from his master. Then one day
he discovered that he was not chanting himself, but the mantra automatically was going on inside continuously. When this happens, you cross the border of impurities. In this way,
Bhakti yoga leads you to the goal.
Jnana yoga, the path of knowledge, is a difficult path. Generally the teacher will give you one of the ‘mahavakya’’s, the ‘great sayings’ from the Upanishads like ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ meaning : ‘I am the Totality, the Ultimate Reality or Brahman’. In the beginning you have to use the intellect to get the process going. Progressively,
you will go deeper and deeper into this mahavakya.
At a certain moment you may have the realization that is expressedin the following verse:
Om shanti, shanti, shanti
The meaning of this sloka, which is the peace invocation at the beginning of the Isha Upanisad, is: ‘OM. “That” is “Full”. “This” is “Full”. Fullness arises from Fullness. Taking away the Full from the Full, Fullness will still remain.’ So when you are successful, you will merge into that absolute Fullness. However, the problem is that for many aspirants, the realization only remains on the level of the intellect. Generally, Jnana Yoga only gathers information in the mind.
The realization is expressed
in the following verse
Om shanti, shanti, shanti
It is like the drunkard who knows that he should not be drinking. On an intellectual level, he has this understanding, this realization; still he cannot quit his bad habit. He cannot become free from it.
Likewise, many jnanis know freedom only intellectually, but they are not free.
Jnana should be on the level of ‘ritambhara pragya’, the Truth-bearing Wisdom about which Patanjali and others speak. This means that your Heart, your Essence, should contain this jnana, not your mind. Now we come to classical yoga, the yoga of eight limbs, or ashtanga yoga, as explained by Rishi Patanjali in the Yoga-sutras. The eight limbs stand for eight steps, beginning with the do’s and don’ts of yama and niyama. Then comes stability and ease in posture and sitting (asana). The next step deals with the regulation and extension of prana by means of the breath (pranayama), and then we come to the withdrawal of the senses from outside objects (pratyahara), to concentration (dharana) and to meditation (dhyana) leading up to samadhi. It is not an easy path.
One needs a proper Master and the right conducive atmosphere to progress step by step. There must be guidance at every stage.
Nowadays, these necessary requirements are difficult to find. Moreover, a core practise is ‘Ishvara pranidhana’. You have to trust fully in God and surrender to Him. In our modern world, many people only practise yoga to become healthier. The yoga in most yoga studios is a sham. It has no spiritual dimension anymore. With such an approach to yoga, you cannot go deeply. Many people say they don’t need spirituality. They say they find much pleasure in the world. But every pleasure carries with it the seed of desire to have that pleasure again and the fear of losing it. They also claim they find freedom in the world. But as the pleasure doesn’t bring lasting happiness, likewise the freedom they think to have is the freedom that is felt by a dog that is on a long rope.
The animal thinks: ‘I can go here; I can go there. I can go from this corner to that corner’. But this isn’t real freedom. People fight for freedom, but they don’t know what real freedom is. In fact, we think we are free, but we are not free. We don’t truly feel free and happy. As long as we are entangled in our own impurities we cannot be free, it is only an illusion of freedom. We think as long as we don’t have to follow any rule or any discipline we can do what we want.
We think that freedom means always making our own choices.
But we can only be really free when we are free from illusion. From that time only we are able to realize our dharma. Also we, the yogis, follow rules and regulations. The entire universe follows some kind of discipline. Nature follows a certain discipline
and feels happy. There is no jealousy among plants! So regulations should be there.
Most people live in a greedy atmosphere full of jealousy. This makes the practise of Jnana yoga, Hatha yoga, Ashtanga yoga very difficult because our minds are infected. They become narrow. I myself did a lot of yoga practise. I followed the practise of Vedanta as well. But shaktipat is unique. With shaktipat, one gets immediately a glimpse of the Self, of our Divine Nature. When one has received shaktipat, and when one has cultivated a deep insight into the illusion of this world, one can get free easily.
My guruji, Swami Shivom Tirth Maharaj, used to say that quick results depend on the following:
- A deep interest in the Highest Truth, a true sense of missing God. This interest, this longing for Truth is really important. For that, shaktipat will really help deep seekers.
- A proper lineage and a true Master belonging to this lineage.
- Devotion to the lineage of Masters. However, when one gets glimpses of higher consciousness, the devotion will come automatically.
Then shaktipat will give very fast results. All other methods give results as well, but with shaktipat one will get glimpses very soon. Then curiosity and aspiration will grow very strong.
I saw many aspirants who became enlightened in a short time.
With shaktipat, jivanmukti, the state of Liberation while still living in a physical body, becomes possible.
Bad karma, sins have no meaning.
Why not? We have no idea about the power of Shakti. This tremendous Shakti runs the universe! Compared to this, our bad karma is totally insignificant. At least during meditation, become free! All our bodies: the physical body, the prana body, the body of the mind,…they mean nothing.
Only Shakti exists.
Shakti is dancing!
That should be our target, our focus! There is a nice story in the Mahabharata on the power of focusing on the right target. Dronacharya was a teacher of archery. At one time, he organized a competition. For this he invited the best archers of his time. He hung up a fish on a pole. He gave the instruction to aim at the eye of the fish. Many archers came, but they all missed. Then it was the turn of Arjuna. He aimed his arrow and pierced the fisheye! The onlookers congratulated him saying:‘What a wonderful concentration you have, you are able to put your attention exclusively on the fish.’ ‘Not at all’, Arjuna replied: ‘I didn’t see a fish at all, I only saw an eye!’ Then Dronacharya exclaimed that, due to his intense ability to focus, Arjuna was his best disciple. So focus or one-pointed concentration is the way to spiritual accomplishment. During meditation, just focus on Shakti. Shakti is dancing! Don’t feel the body; don’t see the mind, the prana, the environment.
Just focus on Shakti. Some say to me that they are too shy to allow the Shakti to work in public. Don’t be shy! MERGE IN SHAKTI! Don’t bother about what other people might think. If you complain that some people are noisy, then you are not properly focused on your target. Then you are not totally surrendered to Shakti.
With shaktipat meditation, you just have to enjoy, no need to concentrate on the Heart chakra or any other chakra. Then you will see very fast progress happening. Shaktipat works multi-dimensional! I saw many miracles happening with people.
So this is my final advice: Involve yourself fully in Shakti’s play!