Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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Deities in the Himalayan Tradition
Swami Jnaneshvara 

In our tradition deities are thought of only as symbols, not as realities to be worshipped. Swami Rama explains it well in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (3.11-3.12), where he writes:

The ignorant think that gods dwell in celestial worlds and have power to control human destiny. Such gods are merely projections of one's internal organization; the creation of gods in the external world is a projection of the unconscious. The belief in gods was created to help those who are not aware of their internal resources and are in need of an objectification of supernatural powers. They need to believe in gods that will help them fulfill desires that they feel inadequate to fulfill through their own means. It is said that those who have seen gods are fools, for they have seen something of their own self and mistakenly believe that they have seen gods. Externalists have created gods for their own convenience, but in actuality those gods are symbols of unknown phenomena that occur within.

For those aspirants who cannot contemplate on the attributeless Eternal, symbols are recommended by spiritual teachers. In the path of meditation certain symbols are used to make the mind one-pointed. The student is then advised to go beyond the symbol to comprehend its meaning rather than remaining dependent on the symbol forever. Thus in meditation one leaves the symbol behind and goes forward.

The ignorant worship the symbols without knowing and understanding that which lives behind and beyond the symbol. But if one is capable of exploring that which is being expressed by the symbol, he may eventually discover the existence of the formless archetype that is clothed in the forms of the symbol.

With further work he may attain direct experience of the archetypes, not as objects but by becoming one with the archetypes themselves.


Examples of Symbols

Following are a few examples of how this works, where some may consider these as deities or gods to be followed, petitioned, or worshipped, but which are actually symbols. The symbols mentioned and the descriptions are not meant to be complete, but rather, are just to give you an introduction to this process.

Hanuman: The monkey is held as a symbol of the human mind, and its habit of running here and there, constantly active and never restful; it is fickle like the monkey. Hanuman is a symbol of training that monkey mind, bringing it to peace and tranquility. Prayer to Hanuman as a deity is thought to bring devotion and purity.

Ganesha: While there are many other symbolisms, Ganesha is a reminder to be like the elephant, strong and wise. The elephant is independent, a strong creature living in the wilds of the jungle, harming no one for food, as he is vegetarian. Others view Ganesha as having human form, but with an elephant head; he is petitioned as a remover of obstacles.

Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh (Shiva, Rudra): As symbols, these represent the three universal processes of coming into being, existing for some time, and going (receding back into the formless). A flower comes, is, and goes. Our lives in these physical bodies in this world goes through this process of birth, living, and dying. Thoughts also come, stay for a while, and naturally dissipate. Others view these symbols as deities to be worshipped or petitioned.

Shiva and Shakti: These are universal process of the static ground (shiva) and the active (shakti) manifesting outward through many levels. As a metaphor, it is somewhat like the countless words and sentences which may be written with the use of the underlying same ink. While the ground is shiva (which is one and the same with shakti), it is the power of shakti that manifests as the entire universe and all its diversity. Others perform rituals as if Shiva and Shakti are anthropomorphic beings to be solicited for various reasons.

Mahatripurasundari: Central to the practices in our tradition is meditation and contemplation on the one consciousness which is the source of, and permeates the three (tri) levels (cities or "pura") of sleep, dreaming, and waking. That consciousness is considered to be great ("maha") and most beautiful ("sundari"). Others worship her as a goddess.

 

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This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.