Indian Ambassador to Romania, released the book on Meditation written by Swami Ananda

Book on Meditation, written by Swami Ananda Saraswati was released by Honourable Indian Ambassador to Romania Mr. Thanglura Darlong. The first officer Mr. Bhaskar Bhatt welcomed the gathering and Victoria Gall, president of Yoga Vidya Romania introduced all the guests. Professor. Mr. Matei Georgescu, PhD Psychoanalyst gave the Introductive word. Professor. Mr. Mateand and Professor. Mr. Petru Lisievici spoke about the book. Ana cernat, member of Yoga Vidya Romania gave vote of thanks.

Swami Ananda Saraswati, reached Henry Coanda International Airport, Romania on 20th November 2018, was received by Victoria Gall and other Yoga Vidya students. The book release event happened at Indian Embassy in Romania on 21st November 2018.

Swamiji blessed the occasion and presented a copy of book signed by him to the Honourable Indian Ambassador to Romania, Mr. Thanglura Darlong.

Swamiji’s visit to ICaro – Community for children

 

Augusta : Swami Ananda Saraswati, Founder of Yoga Vidya Gurukulam, Himalayas Vidya Vahini Trusts, Yoga Vidya ONlLUS, Italy, visited ICaro a home for Children at Agusta, Sicily, Italy.

Stefania Rossitto, President of Yoga Vidya ONLUS, President of Children Home Mr. Enzo Toscano, founding teacher of Yoga Vidya Agusta were present. After questions and answer session Meditation books were distributed to all the inmates. Elio Panarello, Teacher and Founder of Yoga Vidya Agusta is taking regular classes for them.

 

Satisfied with the experience, the president of “Icaro”, Enzo Toscano , who praised the yoga classes carried out by Elio Panarello called it as, “Yoga for re-living”, and thanked him by stating, “even the hyperactive guys are able to reap great benefits “, and everyone were pleasantly amazed by the serenity and the interaction provided by Swamiji.

TIMELESS TALES – SEEING COMFORT AND SEEKING COMFORT

The following article is developed based on a seminar on the text Yati Panchakam by Swami Ananda Saraswati. This was held in early Dec, 2017 in Italy.

Yati Panchakam is a set of five verses by Sri Adi Sankaracharya. In English, the text’s title can be roughly translated as, the Wisdom of a Loin Cloth Renunciate; that explains the secret to happiness. The text in essence states that for a man to be happy, he needs no possession other than that of a loin cloth; sufficient enough to cover himself to the barest minimum.

An average mind would be surprised at such a proclamation. Some might even dismiss this thought as lofty idealism that is outright impractical. This is hardly surprising as all of us are conditioned to believe that we need to gain possessions in life in order to become happy. But at the core of Yati Panchakam, Adi Sankara reflecs that the goal of man is not to become happy but rather to understand the principles that can help one be happy. Between being happy and becoming happy, therein lies a world of difference.

Happiness is not about what we have. It is about who we are. We are constantly engaged in thinking about what we have and what we could potentially have in our lives. This thought originates from the body, moves towards attributes related to the body, like name, fame, position, education, and wealth and so on and so forth. In this fashion, a predominant part of our lives is consumed in dwelling on thoughts related to our possessions. But hardly any time is spared with reference to knowing who we are. An average person who is constantly engaged in such a pursuit ends up wrongly concluding, I can feel good only when good things happen in my life. I feel good because I have a good family, a productive job, a wonderful house and a fancy car. But my feeling of goodness is so fragile that it collapses the moment one of the attributes I have goes falls short. But Yati Panchakam tells us that this is a perception borne out of ignorance. It, on the contrary, explains that we are the source of all goodness; one that is independent of what we have or possess. It proclaims gloriously that I am the one who invites goodness in my life.

To invite goodness, we need to look at ourselves without a given role. But we never see ourselves without a role. Even during meditation, we look at ourselves as a meditator which is also another role.  Playing a role is essential but seeing ourselves without a role is fundamental. Understanding and seeing are one and the same. But in common parlance, these two words end up getting misused. For instance, we should aim to understand God. On the contrary, we try to see God. God cannot be seen with our limited eyes; that is a futile quest. But interestingly, understanding God is equivalent to seeing God. To understand is to see, albeit not in a physical context. In English, we often ask our counterparts, “Do you see my point?” That is we ask whether the person listening is able to understand what we say without a doubt.

In the five verses of Yati Panchakam, the thought of seeing ourselves without a role is implicitly driven towards us. But usually, we end up seeing ourselves in a role and most unfortunately, we see a given situation not with the role that it entails but with the one that we find comfortable. In other words, we always choose to put ourselves in a role that is least challenging or most convenient.

A good example here is that of mothers. Every woman likes to be a mother as in this role, she feels highly wanted (by her child). Her likes, dislikes and preferences go unchallenged. In few instances, we can also find some women playing the role of a mother to their husbands. There can be a motherly attitude in a wife but a wife cannot take the role of a mother. The same role misappropriation also happens in the case of men. This can even be extended to Swamis (teacher in Sanskrit). For example, I am now entrusted with the responsibility of playing the role of a teacher to a set of people who have come together. I have this role as long as I am teaching but the moment I step out to travel, I become a traveler. If I continue to don the role of a teacher even when I am travelling, would it not lead to confusion within me?

So we need to be very cautious in our role play. We all have to play multiple roles and it is imperative that we do not mix up one with another. Seeing one role through the eyes of another is in fact the root of all conflict.

And why do we choose some roles over the other? It is because we believe that certain roles will give us more comfort. But does that really happen? We gain comfort when we learn to see comfort, not when we try to seek it. That person is a comfortable person, who sees comfort but not runs behind comfort. Comfort is not to be achieved, in fact the more we run behind comfort, the more the comfort moves away from us. On the contrary, comfort has to be discovered. The more one sees comfort, the more one can be comfortable in any given situation.

Interchanging roles causes not just conflict but tremendous discomfort. The very moment we start to see one role through the eyes of another, discomfort begins.

Let me take my very own example. I am now playing the role of a teacher to a class in Tuscany. If I suddenly start thinking that I am a Swami from the Himalayas, and begin to mix that role in my current play, what is likely to happen? I will start seeing everyone and everything around me from the standpoint of a Swami. My mind will start to judge the Italian setting from a Himalayan standpoint and it will inevitably start to throw complaints and misgivings about all that surrounds me. In short, everything that I see in this class in Tuscany will start to become a source of discomfort. My mind, instead of letting me play the role of a teacher, which is what is expected of me, will wrongly start judging the situation from an inappropriate standpoint. That then leads to the zone of discomfort, making me fail to do what I have to do at this given point.

The rise of discomfort is thus not due to people or situations. It arises owing to our inability to play the role that is needed and instead, choosing a preferred role that is less challenging. Our role in life is thus not to run behind comfort but rather to see comfort from where we are. This can also be further substantiated from another angle. Let us look at ourselves. We are all bestowed with a number of comforts. But do we truly feel comfortable?

And have we ever asked ourselves as to why we feel uncomfortable despite having so much of comfort all around? The reason is because we do not see comfort within ourselves. And when we don’t see comfort in ourselves, we do not give the right value to our possessions.

Everything in this world has its own value. A needle is as useful as a sword, and its utility is purely determined by the situation. A sword cannot stitch clothes while a needle cannot help fight a war. Thus a given object becomes useful and valuable depending on our usage. But we mostly never give value to an object based on its utility. This is best explained by the gold rush in India, where people flock to get gold whenever they have money. And they buy gold because they find it precious and valuable. But do you know what happens to most of the gold that is bought? It stays dormant in bank lockers. So the value that was attributed was not out of utility but rather out of perception. Isn’t this tragic waste of money?

Many among us also have this habit of not valuing things at our disposal. But we superimpose high value on things unknown. A new employee, for instance, will always hold his CEO in his esteem, especially when he first begins. But after a few years of experience, his opinion will start changing and the stature of the CEO by all means, will start dwindling. It was not that the CEO became undesirable all of a sudden. He was the same person before and is the same person now. It is only the apparent ignorance of the new employee that made him weigh the CEO wrongly in the first place. To go back, when we learn to see comfort, we also learn to value things out of utility. And in a remarkable way, we will end up seeing that everything has its own value.

There is a wonderful story that illustrates this message in detail.

There was once an old boatman in the country side who used to earn his living by helping people cross a river. He had with him a boat that was as old as him but still was good enough to do the job. One fine day, with the sun at its peak, he was about to retire after one last journey across the river. While on his way back, he noticed an unusually shiny stone at the river bank. As he landed at the bank, he walked hurriedly to pick it up.

It was a large stone that sparkled brilliantly, reflecting the sun’s rays in all its splendour. He decided then to keep this stone as a souvenir from the river and placed it in his boat at all times. Time and again, he used to see the stone during his work and marvel at its brilliance.

One fine day, a cobbler who sought the boatman’s services was awestruck by the stone’s luster.

He asked the boatman, “Where did you get this stone? It is so beautiful”

“I got it from the river bank” replied the old man

The cobbler was tempted; he wanted to possess the stone and asked the boatman spontaneously,

“Can I buy this stone from you? I will pay you 500 Rupees”

The Oldman felt that this was a good deal. He hardly made 150 Rupees each day and he told himself that he had already gained his share of pleasure from the stone. He felt it was fine for him to give it away for good money. So the cobbler bought the stone. His happiness knew no bounds and he wanted to keep the stone with himself in his shop. He used it at work and showed it with great pride to his customers.

Many weeks passed by and one fine day, a goldsmith happened to visit the cobbler. His trained eye gravitated towards the stone and he at once knew this was not an ordinary one. This stone was a precious stone, a diamond, which the cobbler was blissfully unaware. He found it hard to digest that the cobbler was using a diamond worth millions in the most frivolous of ways.

Sensing an opportunity, he asked, “I really like your stone. Where did you buy it?”

The cobbler beaming with pride said. “I got this from the local boatman for 500 Rupees”

The goldsmith slowly pushed his case, “I have grown so fond of your stone and I am ready to pay you 1000 Rupees for it. Will you sell it to me?”

The cobbler nodded in disagreement, “I am not keen to give this stone away. Please don’t take me wrong”

The Goldsmith increased the price five times, and said, “Will you refuse even if I were to pay you 5000 Rupees?”

The cobbler gave in. He could make 5000 Rupees only in a month, and this was an offer that was hard to resist. The goldsmith relished in his success and rushed to his shop to test the quality of the diamond at hand. But the very moment he put himself to work on it, the diamond shattered into pieces. The goldsmith, who had just been jumping with joy, was heartbroken.  He could not comprehend what went wrong.

At that moment, a voice from above spoke.

“The boatman who picked this stone first did not know of its true value, neither did the cobbler who bought it from him. But you knew its true value and yet you cheated the cobbler. You thus do not deserve to gain this diamond and its value”

Does the same not happen in our lives?

Seeing comfort and seeking comfort are two different mind sets.  We must understand that comfort must always be seen and never be sought. And when we truly discover comfort within ourselves, we will find value in everything. And ironically, we will find the right value in everything only when we truly deserve it.

NoteA masculine reference has been used in this article across all examples and illustrations. This has been assumed purely for the sake of convenience.

 

 

– Written by Karthik Sundaram based on Swamiji’s talk

The Art of Trusting

(Based on Swamiji’s talks in November, 2013)
The entire universe runs on the basis of trust. We are alive because of trust. The day we stop trusting, is the day we begin to die. Life is abound with trust. Trust is every where, one only needs to be alert to see it. Even the most mundane of actions like breathing involves trust. It is only because I trust I can inhale, I am ready to exhale. In the space between inhalation and exhalation, there is trust. If we do not trust that we can inhale, would we ever exhale? And the one who does not trust that he can inhale, will either try not to exhale or do so partially.
But what creates distrust? Distrust is an outcome of fear. The fear that arises from our conclusions which are based on what we know or what we rely upon. Just like how a person who refuses to trust in inhalation, struggles to survive, a person who does not trust puts up a sorry face, an object of pity to the world around.
Let us look at another example, a very common act that is built on  trust; walking. The very fact that each leg of ours can hold our full weight makes us lift one leg after the other. If we do not trust that each foot of ours could hold our weights without falling, would we be able to walk? The same trust is also manifest when we run. I am sure that when I lift one of my feet, the other would move towards the ground. This belief makes me run. If I doubt my feet, can I run?
Those who don’t trust their feet end up depending on a support. If you visit a hospital, you can find perfectly healthy people with strong legs, using a walking stick. It is not because they cannot walk, it is because they don’t trust their legs anymore. If we observe ourselves closely, there is a lot of distrust that we have developed knowingly or unknowingly. Trust is not a logical outcome, in fact it is an overdose of logic that makes us lose it.
But a question may arise as to what is wrong if I do not trust? Isn’t it perfectly normal to not have trust in certain objects, people or situations in life? The answer is manifold. Distrust is the fruit and the seed of dependence . A person who does not develop the art of trusting, will end up with a sense of dependence. And engendering a sense of dependence is dangerous, not only to the one who has it but also to all those around. To trust is to not merely avoid dependence but also gain confidence. Trust and confidence go hand in hand. To the one who sees it well, trust is more than mere belief. Trust empowers us to act even in the most tiring of situations. Even when the sky feels closing down and the ground beneath seems falling, trust helps us move forward, with hope and without doubt or despair.
–  Written by Karthik Sundaram based on Swamiji’s talk­

The Need for a Brake

It was a busy morning in a city school. With hasty parents leaving semi-awake children, the morning classes had just commenced.

 

A school teacher asks her class,

“Why do you think we need a brake in a vehicle?”

 

The student in the first row stands up and hurriedly blurts out,

“To stop! A brake is required to bring the vehicle to a stop”

 

Another hand sprung up from somewhere in between,

“A brake can help us control the vehicle”

 

A third student, a bit patiently rose up and said,

“We need a break to negotiate our vehicle, especially across tricky curves and risky bends”

 

The teacher absorbed the responses, each of them right in their own way. But still she expected something more. After half a minute, when she was almost certain that there were no new ideas from her class, a student stood up unassumingly and said eagerly,

 

“I think I need a brake to ride my bike as fast as possible”

 

The teacher smiled. She got the response she was hoping for.

 

A brake in a vehicle is not merely to bring it to a stop or to negotiate turns. Its utility is profound as it gives the driver the belief to ride as fast as possible. It is a system that invokes trust and reliability.

 

Our life is also a vehicle with us at the forefront. Whether we see it or not, we all are driving our lives at a certain speed. In our journey we often get surprised, travelling through bumps, slipping through potholes and sometimes we run the risk of crashing into an accident. A brake is essential, without which a vehicle is incomplete and unqualified for use.

 

This brake system in the fold of Sanatan Dharma is filled by the Guru, a teacher. A teacher not only helps to impart knowledge but stands by as a source of strength in our everyday lives. His presence will not merely help us manage and negotiate the troubled road ahead, but also give us the strength to keep moving, with confidence, zest and hope.

– Written by Karthik Sundaram based on Swamiji’s talk.

Know Your Mind part – 01 in keeping with Shiva Sankalpa Suktam

Shiva Sankalpa Sukam

Introduction:

Shiva-Sankalpa-Suktam, is a hymn which consists of six verses, found in Chapter 34 of Shukla Yajur Veda Samhita, where it carefully describes the nature of mind. It is very important for all of us to know our mind.
There is a saying that states:

Observe your thought; otherwise it will become your action
Observe your action; otherwise it will become your habit
Watch your habits; otherwise it will become your personality
Observe your personality; as otherwise that will become your life.

Our life originates from a thought. You will be surprised to discover how many thoughts, which
you consider your own, comes from outside. For example, if someone wanted to become a doctor
but could not due to some reason, there is likely to be a lot of frustration in him. Then he awaits his
child to be born and injects the thought into him“You should be a doctor”.

Now the child starts to own this thought and this thought begins to influence his actions, habits, personality and eventually his life. We always say, “This is my life” but do we really live for ourselves or others?

Sometimes when we have an itch in our back, that too at a point which we cannot reach, what do we do? We will find another person who also has an itch in his back and ask him to scratch our back and in return, we scratch his own. So is it true when we say that we live only for others and that our life has meaning only if it’s spent for others?

We do an action for others but in doing so, our real purpose is to get something in return. A person can either destroy us by injecting a certain thought or uplift us by injecting a different thought. The whole world moves because of a thought. The power of a thought is so huge that we hardly imagine its magnitude.

Let us look at an example. If someone tells you, “You are beautiful”, what happens to you? You become very happy. On the other hand, if someone says “You are stupid”, what happens? Your face is most likely to turn into that of a beaten dog instantaneously. Any word, whether it is beautiful or stupid, has the power to change your day, your mood, and almost everything. Why is this so?

In life, all of us are basically selfish. It is not possible to come across somebody who is selfless. For an ordinary person, the concept of “I” is identified with me and mine. In fact, the current concept of family is me and me. Today people do not care about others and are only concerned about themselves. The concept of “self ” is limited to the body and that which gives comfort to the body. Next step, the concept of me includes not only me but also my family, children, parents, and relatives; the concept of self, in this way, gets expanded.

From my body and what was connected to my body, now it includes my family and people related to my family. If we continue with the same reasoning, for the leader of a nation, the concept of I expands to include the whole nation. In each of these cases, e can see how the sense of “I” expands. The concept of “I” should never shrink. You should observe yourself carefully to see whether the sense of “I” in you is expanding or contracting. If it is expanding it means that you are growing, if it shrinks, you need to know that you are possibly missing something.

If “I” expands we accommodate people. Accommodation becomes spontaneous when life is
expanding. If it is not, we can never accommodate.

If someone plants a thought in your mind, you carry it without your knowledge, whether you want
it or not. It happens to all of us, many times and we waste much of our time acting on an unhealthy
thought that we picked up unconsciously.

For example, when we go to a mall to buy a few things, we end up buying more than we need. This happens to most of us. At home, we make a list of what we need, but in the end, we discover that we
have put a lot of extra things in the cart. How did this happen?

We get attracted to something and think, “Ah, this may be useful!” The thought: “this may be useful”
consumes our time, resources, and everything, and that is what happens to us every day.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati used to tell the story of a Sadhu in Rishikesh who preferred to sleep
outside his hut rather than inside. When asked the reason, the Sadhu replied that there was no room in his hut. When Swamiji requested him to show his hut, he saw the hut was full of empty tins which the Sadhu had collected thinking, they would be useful sometime. If we look at ourselves, the same happens to us too. In life, the more we accumulate things, both that we want and do not want, the more it becomes complicated. In a similar way, it is required for us to not accumulate a lot of thoughts, especially undesirable ones that will not support our growth.

We may agree that from the thought comes the action, the action comes the habit, the habit comes to the personality and from the personality comes life. But how do we reverse the process?

At first, we need to watch our mind carefully and objectively. We must consider it as a location, where
thoughts come and go. We must detach ourselves from the mind to be able to observe the mind.

It is the first thing we must do; otherwise, we will end up complicating our lives more and more. How we look at our mind is much more important than what we are thinking. How we approach the mind is more important than the knowledge we possess.

In the name of religion or spirituality or both, we are increasingly interested in collecting more and more information, rather than developing the ability to observe how the mind functions.

A mind is like a child. If you are too tough and strict with a child, it will not listen to you. On the other hand, if you are very friendly, it will not respect you. And the same thing happens with a monkey too. The mind is nothing but a monkey. The more you try to chase it, the more chaos it creates. On the contrary, it is also dangerous to ignore the mind completely. One must be very careful with the mind. One should neither be too strict nor give it complete freedom. If we look at ourselves, we tend to give absolute freedom to our mind which is not healthy. We need to understand the extent of freedom to be given because a thought in our mind translates into action.

For example, while sitting some of us might have the tendency to constantly change positions because the mind engages in a thought that sitting is painful. We begin to move immediately, without ascertaining whether it is necessary or not, whether the pain is bearable or not, and if we can handle it without making any movement. As soon as the thought occurs we at once translate it into action.

It is correct to change position if there is a pain, but before we do, we should check if the pain is bearable and if we can handle it.

Let us look at another example. Many young children have the habit of sucking their thumb which may be helpful for some time. But when they get older, it is no longer good to continue this habit.
Parents should take care to ensure that this practice does not continue.

Similarly, it is natural that the mind develops certain habits, but we must become responsible and
ascertain whether to persist with these habits or not. It will be surprising to know that the mind has
tremendous strength. It can work the way we want it to. If we consider our mind as being dumb, we
will end up becoming dumb. But if we consider it as a great tool, we’ll discover that the mind will give its best. Let us learn how to make the mind a better tool.

We started with the saying,

“Watch your thoughts, or they become your actions, watch your actions or they become your habit, watch your habits or they become your personality, watch your personality as otherwise, they will become your life.”

As we have seen, our lives stem from a thought, and someone from outside can inculcate a thought and without us realising, it could eventually become our life.

That’s why it is very important to note every little thought that comes to mind. Every thought that comes to our mind must be seen objectively. If I pick up a flower and play with it by passing it from hand to hand, or tear the petals or drop it, no one is bothered. But If I say this flower belongs to you, but I take it on loan to give a demo and start to play with it and drop it, you react differently.

In the first instance, with the same flower, there was no problem for anyone. But when I say it is your flower, I borrow it and then I start to play, you are concerned about it. All our conflicts and confusion is in relation to this. The more we understand and assimilate this concept, the more will we be able to enjoy our life. It seems very simple but it is not so easy.

If you were to own a beach, you would not be able to enjoy it. As soon as someone walked on it, we
would begin to wonder “Who is this person? Why
is he walking here? Who gave him permission?”
The more we think that in life we have to own to
enjoy things and people, the more will we suffer.
Now let me pose a question, “Is the body you have,
yours?”
If you say yes, your father could claim to say. “Hello, your body is mine!” And your mother could
say, “Hello, half of that body is mine” The farmer might say, “I too have contributed to your body”
The government could say, “Oh no, your body belongs to me, to the nation” And the bacteria that live in your body could say, “It is our body. We have lived here for many generations. It is our property.” And if you marry, your spouse will say, “Half of your body belongs to me” and your children could say, “your body belongs to us too.” Where will you be at this point? How many people have their claim on your body? But what do you say?

And every time you think this is your body, do you enjoy or suffer? Instead, if you understand that the body has been given and you have to take care of it and put it to good use, would you enjoy it or not? It is a very simple logic.

And the same logic is applicable to the mind. It is very easy to look at the body and try to understand
the concept of the body. But it is not as simple as far as the mind is concerned.