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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Frequently Asked Questions

by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati 

What do you think of 2012?
There are so many articles on this site; where do I start?
Why have you created this website?
Why don't you write books instead of a website?
May I copy/publish your articles onto my website or in books?
How can I connect with you?

What kind of meditation do you do?
Is this vipassana meditation?
Is this TM meditation?
Do you offer yoga teacher training?
How do I get rid of thoughts and words when I meditate?
Why is this style of meditation so complicated?

Does meditation involve escaping the world?
What is Yoga according to you?
What kind of Yoga do you do?
Is Yoga physical fitness or is it religion?
What about the Yoga practiced today?

Are you a guru? Can I be your disciple?

Will you give me shaktipata?
Do I have to be your student to learn?
May I be your student by internet?
I've been meditating for years; why am I stuck?

Do you believe in reincarnation?
Do I really have to "do" anything for enlightenment?
Do you believe in and provide astrology readings?

I'm a Christian; can I practice Yoga?
Is Yoga a religion?
Is meditation a religion?
Why should I do Yoga? Meditate?
What books should I read?

Are you a Christian? Did you convert from Christianity?
Are you a Hindu?
Are you a Buddhist?
What is your religion?
What rituals do you perform?

What is a swami?
What was your name and what did you do before?
Are you part of other institutions founded by Swami Rama?

What institution is the real heir of the tradition?
Who is Swami Rama's successor?
Is Swami Rama a bad guy?
Will you help me with my problems?
What should I do?

Q: What do you think of 2012?

I'm quite looking forward to 2013 and 2014. It will be interesting to see that all the prophets will do with the 2012 question after it has come and gone without the end of the world or other predictions coming true. I think that these prophets will pass into murky history just as have the majority of their predecessors.

Q: There are so many articles on this site; where do I start?

This is probably the most commonly asked question. When I first heard of websites I was living in Rishikesh, Himalayas, where there was no internet access. Somebody explained to me that because of links, a website could match the human mind, in that the mind goes all over the place, here and there. Not having a computer or internet access, my own mind started to conceptualize what that might look like from the standpoint of meditation philosophy and practice, where the goal was to try to be both succinct and yet thorough. It was about five years later that I was able to start working on the site.

By knowing this one feature of the creation of the site, it might be a bit more comfortable to navigate. It really is designed so that you can just dive in and play around, moving here and there easily (Note that even the page you are currently reading has lots of links incorporated so that you can explore). Please read the article on How to Use the Site, which explains that there are intentionally three types of articles.

Where to start? The articles linked in the center column of the home page are a good place to start.

Q: Why have you created this website?

A: I am happy to say that I often get emails thanking me for making this website available. The notes often comment on how much time it must have taken to develop, and also ask how it is, or why I am doing this; why I am providing this free for people. I find this a convenient way to create learning tools that integrate the written word and simple graphics. I often update the articles, adding a sentence here and there, clarifying some point, or adding some graphic to make some point more clear. Internet is a convenient tool to make this kind of presentation to people who are in diverse locations.

The original motive of starting this website was to make points clear to people I personally know, with the bonus that it may serve others as well. Ironically and humorously I say that while I've started out trying to make it simple, I've just made it ever more complicated with all these web pages. Hopefully, approaching all of this in a spirit of playful simplicity makes it easier and practical.

We, the people of the world, are collectively suffering deeply, and meditation holds a real key to the freedom from this suffering. This website is a part of my contribution to that goal.

Q: Why don't you write books instead of a website?

The small percentage of people who are truly interested in this material are in many different cultures and countries. Internet is the easiest way to cross over all of those boundaries. I also like the fact that through internet it is easy to share material without the challenges of physical distribution, along with the fact that it can be shared without any monetary cost. Maybe one of these days I'll start writing some books from this material. I know people often would rather hold a book in the hand to read than to read from a computer screen. I'm like that myself. I've started to make some booklets from a few of the articles (look here for the booklets). Maybe that will lead to books over time.

Q: May I copy/publish your articles on my website or in books?

A: I do not claim ownership over any of the principles or practices described here, although the wording itself falls under the domain of copyright laws. The articles on the site are here in the spirit of selfless service. No specific copyright privileges are granted. While I do not grant any specific copyright privileges, I would not voice objection to your printing a minimal amount of text from articles for personal use or as classroom aids (in alignment with the "fair use" provisions of copyright laws), as long as they are not copied and distributed for commercial sale, and the source is referenced as Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati and the website. You are welcome to provide links to articles on the website, whether in emails, blogs, on your website, or in other publications.

How can I connect with you?

A: The easiest way to connect with me is through our ashram, Abhyasa Ashram.

Q: What kind of meditation do you do?

A: Our approach to meditation is neither exclusively cultivating concentration (one-pointedness) of mind, nor exclusively promoting insight or mindfulness. Rather, these are emphasized as companion practices (some other traditions practice only one or the other of insight or concentration).

Meditations on attitudes of friendliness or lovingness, compassion or mercy, gladness or goodwill, and acceptance or neutrality are most important. These are seen as preliminary practices to stabilize the mind in preparation for the subtler meditations. We practice breath regulation and breath meditation for their immediate benefits, and as a foundation for the advanced practices. All of the many possible objects on which one may meditate are at one of several levels, ranging from gross to subtle to subtle most, then to the formless, and to the pure consciousness permeating all. Meditations deal with sensation, body, breath, conscious mind, active unconscious mind, latent unconscious mind, and the pure consciousness beyond.

These meditations come from the ancient tradition of the Himalayan masters, as passed on by Swami Rama, with the practices being described in his many books and video lectures, and well as through the texts of the schools of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra. Collectively, these work together to help one seek nothing less than the highest, absolute Truth or Reality. (See the articles listed on the Levels Index for more info about the levels of practice, and also the article Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra, as well as the article on Our Tradition)

Some modern purveyors of meditation sell mantras, explaining things such as, if you chant this mantra every day for 20 minutes for seven years you will be enlightened. They say you should NOT work with your body and breath, and that there is no need to explore your mind. Others say you ONLY should be aware of breath, and ignore both the body and mind (since, some argue, there is no mind). Still others say you should ONLY meditate on mental awareness, paying no attention to body and breath. In the tradition of the Himalayan masters (and authentic Yoga), one is instructed to deal with ALL levels, including body, breath, and mind, and that practices of meditation, contemplation, prayer and mantra all work together, like fingers on a hand, gradually revealing the Self or Center of Consciousness, which is one and the same with the absolute reality.

Is this vipassana meditation?

It appears that modern practitioners of "vipassana" meditation do not agree even on it's source. Some prominent sites on vipassana explain that it was "discovered" by Buddha some 2500 years ago. Others say that it was "rediscovered" by Buddha, implying that it was previously known but was somehow forgotten. Some explain that these practices have become "lost" over time. Some say that it was only rediscovered in the 20th century by one man who has popularized the method. The central aspects of these practices have to do with body awareness, breath awareness, and the interaction between the two, so as to gain "insight" through this "insight meditation".

However, these practices with body, breath and mind are integral to the tradition of the Himalayan masters, and though their prominence may have increased and decreased throughout time and various cultures, the practices have never been "lost" and thus, have not been "rediscovered." Swami Rama explains that the tradition of the Himalayan masters is an "unbroken lineage from the Vedic period", some 4,000-5,000 or more years ago, long before the era of Buddha and the various Buddhist sects which emerged later. These renunciates of the tradition surely did not derive their practices from Buddha, who came much later, although it seems quite likely that the reverse would have happened, with Buddhist practitioners borrowing from the preexisting principles and practice of the sages who came before. Although scholars point out that the details of Buddha's life are not accurately known, it is generally believed that he studied in a traditional way, learning from several teachers, before he sat alone to do the practices leading to his enlightenment.

We all know that we humans have egos, and love to identify ourselves with this or that. In the case of meditation, this presents itself by giving "brand names" to aspects of meditation and then claiming it as "mine". This is probably not just a new phenomenon, as is currently the case with all the new, trademarked or patented "yoga" systems, but is likely a habit of human ego for a very long time. Thus, it is very popular for the universal and long known practices of awareness of body, breath, and mind to be labeled under popular names such as "vipassana" which have such a beautiful sound when coming out of the lips. One person asks another, "What kind of meditation do you do?" The other answers, "I do meditation." It has such a lovely sound and is great in social settings.

Is this TM meditation?

TM or "Transcendental Meditation" is a trademarked, brand name of meditation that is promoted through the Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation, which is based in Iowa, USA. It is a meditation method which utilizes some 20 or so traditional bija (seed) mantras that are widely known in India. The founding of the organization is credited to Mahesh Yogi, who was a student of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati of Jyoshimath, Himalayas (He left the body in 1953). Interestingly, meditation is by its very nature "transcendental" allowing one to experience the depth of consciousness beyond the levels of body, breath, and mind. The source of out which Mahesh Yogi drew his teachings is none other than the ancient tradition of the Himalayan masters, although that ancient tradition is not called "TM" or "Transcendental Meditation", as these are modern terms created by the organization of Mahesh Yogi.

Do you offer yoga teacher training?

Yoga has been extremely distorted in recent years, particularly in the West, and most specifically in the U.S.. Yoga is now mostly thought of as merely a physical fitness program. Along with this shift there has been a rise in yoga schools and "teacher training" programs that supposedly produce qualified yoga "teachers". For many years I have found myself opposed to the very concept of yoga teacher training programs. First, yoga was distorted. Second, studios for presenting distorted yoga were created. Third, this resulted in a need for more teachers, which led to the creation of "yoga business" and the concept of a "yoga industry". The idea of training "teachers" by people who have little regard for the true meaning of yoga is absurd. The idea of having a "certified" teacher in this kind of system is ridiculous.

There is presently a movement in the world, especially in the U.S., for governments to "regulate" schools for teacher training. It is quite controversial and there is much resistance from many so-called "yoga teachers" opposed to government regulation. However, these people brought this on themselves by distorting yoga in such a way that it would appear proper to regulate it like is done with other forms of "vocational" training. When we turn yoga into a "business," an "industry" or a "profession" this naturally brings on related consequences. If you want to know more about this you can do internet searches on yoga regulation and find much information and discussion.

Here, in our small ashram, we provide training in yoga to a small number of sincere aspirants. However, it is yoga "student" training, not yoga "teacher" training, with the training emphasizing traditional yoga of the Himalayan masters, as passed down by the sage Swami Rama, wherein the goal is Self-realization, not just a physically fit body. We are in the process of expanding that training with the intent of serving a few of that very small percentage of people who are interested in the more authentic goals and methods of yoga. (See the article on Modern versus Traditional Yoga and the page about Abhyasa Ashram)

Q: How do I get rid of thoughts and words when I meditate?

A: Trying to get rid of thoughts is one of the biggest traps of meditation. There's a little trick I do sometimes with people to make this point when they ask me how to get rid of thoughts. I ask them what method or technique they used to get rid of the sounds of the people outside of the room we are in sitting in, or what they did about the sound of the cars driving by on the road. Did they get rid of the people and the cars? Often they'll have trouble finding an answer, and will try this or that guess. Finally, after we talk about it for a while, they'll acknowledge that they did absolutely nothing, no method or technique whatsoever to get rid of the people, the cars, or the sounds they might have been making in the background of our conversation. It is like that with the thoughts and words in the mind. As soon as we think we have to "do" something with the thoughts, we are already trapped.

What should you do with the words and the thoughts? Nothing; absolutely, positively nothing whatsoever. It is not even an "action" of "ignoring" them or "witnessing" them; even those are actions of sorts. Do nothing, do nothing, do nothing. Go about your meditation. If you are feeling the touch of the breath flowing in the nostrils, for example, just go on with feeling the air move.

Give it a try; just sit for a moment, right now, turning away from the computer screen. Close your eyes for a minute or two and do nothing other than notice the feel of the flow of air in your nostrils. Really be aware of the cognitive sense of touch as the air comes in and out, gently and smoothly. Do nothing whatsoever other than that, and after you're done, notice what happened. You may not have done it perfectly, but isn't it true (if you actually tried it) that there were even as little as a few seconds where there either seemed to be no thoughts, or if they were there, they were not disturbing? Isn't it true that for those few seconds you were free from streams of disturbing words flowing in the mind? That's the idea.

Like any skill, it is repeated practice that leads to some degree of mastery. Whether you are new to meditation or have years of meditation practice, it is very easy to miss this most simple of skills. Even if the "object" on which you are meditating is the stream of mind itself, that will not be disturbing once this skill of doing nothing is cultivated. What should you do with intruding thoughts and words? Again, do nothing, absolutely nothing whatsoever. Just follow your object of meditation, and anything that would have otherwise been distracting or disturbing will naturally fall away on its own.

Q: Why is this style of meditation so complicated?

A: There are two general ways meditation is taught by various teachers, organizations, or traditions. One approach is that you are taught only the beginning level practices, but the intermediate and advanced processes are not presented. Often a teacher or organization of this approach is simply unaware of the greater depth of meditation. The other approach is that you are taught the entire process of meditation right from the very beginning, though you may not yet be able to experience the more advanced stages. It is like the difference between two people who either do or do not like to sneak a look at the last page of a book to see how the story is going to end. It is analogous to the question of whether a person wants to learn first aid or train as a physician.

You might learn to meditate on lovingness or compassion towards other people, for example. Or you might learn to be mindful of the breath or the body. These styles of meditation are definitely useful in calming the conscious mind and quieting the autonomic nervous system, and are part of the whole process of meditation. However, while some may teach these as complete meditation systems unto themselves, they are actually preliminary to the deeper processes and practices which lead to the highest realizations. These foundation practices, when taught as being complete practices unto themselves, are very popular when taught in the context of stress management or physical health. This can be very comforting to the mind, which allows people to think that there is nothing more to learn, and therefore not be intimidated by the breadth and depth of the meditation process in its entirety. When these practices such as with lovingness, compassion, breath and body awareness are done in the context of the whole process, their purpose is to stabilize and clear the clouded mind in addition to the obvious immediate benefits.

The contemplative and meditative processes outlined in the Yoga Sutras, Vedanta and Tantra, taken collectively, are extremely thorough. One can easily feel threatened by this. It is only one who longs for the highest, or deepest of direct experience who wants to explore, learn, practice, and experience all of the levels of practice. There comes a point where the longing is so strong that there is no longer any choice of whether or not to pursue the whole systematic process; it simply must be done.

Q: Does meditation involve escaping the world?

This is one of the greatest myths propagated by those who are opposed to meditation, especially meditation that goes beyond the gross levels of ourselves and the world, so as to experience the ever pure center of consciousness. This is very far from the truth of meditation and Self-realization. There is an ancient metaphor of the lotus flower, which grows up out of the mud to spread its beautiful petals. It is a symbol suggesting that one be "in the world, but not of the world." It is easy to see only the "not of the world" portion, and to incorrectly infer that the meaning is escaping, and that one should not do this. This view completely ignores the portion that suggests one "be in the world." To be "in" the world is not escaping, avoiding, suppressing, or repressing. It is fully active, engaging, and present in the moment, as we live our lives to the fullest. Yet, while doing this, we can also know--through deep meditation--the higher realities, including that we are one with the whole, that we are truly like the wave that is not separate from the ocean. Surely we will all die in the physical sense, and will have to leave this material plane. Through meditation that becomes a part of life as much as living in the world. The two are companions, living "in" the world, and at the same time having mind and heart focused on that which is not "of" this world. It is not escapism. It is being fully present.

Q: What is Yoga according to you?

There's an article entitled Yoga, which you might want to go through. Most of the paragraphs in this article are brief summaries from other articles (you'll see this when you click on the link to the article). The brief paragraph gives the central point being explained. By clicking on "more" you can go to the individual articles. The term "Yoga" as used on this website is described here.

To more directly address the question of what is Yoga, I like the phrase "has to do with" rather than "is" so that we can point in the direction of what is Yoga without getting lost in whether a particular description is precisely correct in relation to another. With that said, Yoga has to do with the realization of the individual Self with the universal Self, Atman with Brahman, Shiva with Shakti, or pure consciousness known as Purusha standing alone as separate from the many manifestions of the most primal "matter" known as Prakriti (See the article on the Himalayan Tradition).

Unfortunately, it has become all too common to completely ignore, if not outright deny that these are the goals of Yoga. This has happened to large degree by those who wish to incorrectly teach that Yoga is a mere physical fitness or health program. It has become common to say that Yoga has to do with the union of body and breath, or body and mind. While these are beneficial and steps along the way, if the higher, authentic goals of Yoga are not there, it really cannot accurately be called Yoga. It may be useful, but it is not Yoga.

Q: What kind of Yoga do you do?

A: The word "Yoga" has been so maligned in recent years that it is almost a useless term, though we'll obviously continue to use the term. If we keep this unfortunate reality in mind, then we can talk about the higher, authentic meanings of Yoga. In that light, the forms of Yoga that I and our tradition practice are seen to work together as one unified Yoga, like fingers on a hand (remembering the whole, which is the hand), and include Jnana, Karma, Bhakti, Raja, Laya, Kundalini, Kriya, and Tantra Yoga practices (Swami Rama wrote a superb book entitled "Choosing a Path" that helps us identify which of the various aspects of Yoga most match our individual predispositions). Of these practices, the four traditional forms of Yoga are Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, and Raja Yoga, to which the others are related. Our tradition utilizes these four aspects of Yoga, along with Vedanta and Tantra (See also the article about the Four Paths of Yoga and the one about the Tradition).

Is Yoga physical fitness or is it religion?

Barely a week goes by that I don't receive written criticism either through my personal email or through Facebook from people who want to either accuse me of promoting Yoga as religion ("Hinduism") rather than a physical system (which the writer feels it is), or complain that I do not refer to Yoga as a part of Hinduism (which the writer feels it is). Truly, I get this kind of attack from both sides of the fence. The reason I get it from both sides is quite simple: Yoga is neither a mere physical fitness system, nor a religion. You will find this neither/nor perspective about fitness and religion throughout my website. Yoga stands alone, separate from fitness and religion as a means of self-exploration, which eventually reveals in direct experience of preexisting wholeness or union (Yoga).

Q: What about the Yoga practiced today?

The typical public perception of Yoga has shifted significantly in recent years. To the ancients, Yoga is a complete system, of which the postures are a small, though quite useful part. The word "Yoga" referred to the whole, not merely one part, which is the postures, or Asanas. The entire purpose of Yoga is spiritual in nature, according to the ancient sages. In modern times, the relative position of the postures has been elevated, so as to lead people to believe that the word "Yoga" refers to physical postures or Asanas, and that the goal of these is physical fitness. The whole and the part have been reversed, terribly misleading and confusing people about the true nature of authentic Yoga. The goal or destination of Yoga is Yoga itself, union itself, of the little self and the True Self, a process of awakening to the preexisting union that is called Yoga. (See also the article Modern Yoga Versus Traditional Yoga)

Q: Are you a guru? Can I be your disciple?

It's often been pointed out by many that "gu" means "darkness" and that "ru" means "light," and that "guru" is the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance. If this is so, than how can I (or anybody else) be your guru? Personally, I never looked for a guru. There is a saying that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. I slightly reframe that by saying that if one is really, really sincere, then whenever help is needed somebody will show up to help or to show the way. That's the way it has worked for me, and that's the way it seems to work when I am of service to somebody else. If we hold the term "guru" very loosely, and as a matter of convenience, then okay. To say "guru" in that way is like talking of school teachers, parents, mentors, guides, or coaches. It has been said that one's first guru is his or her mother. Guru in the "yogic" sense of the word is a life force, a stream of consciousness that is not any person, though it may work through a person.

My own guide (Swami Rama explained that the word "guru" had become so maligned that he now used the word "guide".), mentor, or, if you wish "guru" as well as my tradition sometimes work through me, and use me as a tool, but that does not make me "the guru." I regularly get emails from people I've never met asking me to be their guru, or asking if they can be my disciple. Who you are is absolute, pure, unadulterated consciousness, whether you call it Atman, Purusha, or some other name. If one says of himself or herself "I am a disciple" that is fundamentally not true. Far better to say "I am That" or "I am that I am" and then try to come to the realization of that in the direct experience of the deepest meditation and contemplation. Then, if help is needed, it will be there. Sometimes that operates through the instrument known as Swami Jnaneshvara. (Here are three extremely clearly written articles by Swami Rama on guru: Guru and the Light Within, Guru and Divine Grace, and Guru is a Stream of Knowledge.)

Q: Will you give me shaktipata?

A: Shaktipata is the bestowing of the grace of shakti or pure consciousness. It is the force of pure consciousness that breaks the final barrier to Self-realization. It comes when all efforts have finally exhausted themselves. Swami Rama tells his personal story about his years of effort before this finally came. I have my own personal version of this story, although I think it inappropriate to write about it here, and do not respond to emails about any such question. I only talk about this in closer one-to-one conversations.

Unfortunately, it has become all to common these days for self-appointed gurus to claim the ability to give shaktipata to people right from the very beginning. They claim that if the disciple surrenders to him as a person, the disciple will not have to do any more sadhana or practices. If you surrender to this holy man (probably including surrendering your money), all else will be done for you, automatically. This is a big con, done by very slick operating con men. They may may have a very impressive appearance, speak with broken English, have a grey beard, and very much look the part of a Hollywood movie casting of an India holy man. Shakti is universal, being everywhere at all times and all places. When it stirs, it is very easy for the con man guru to take credit for it; the gullible and often emotionally troubled people are the ones who fall for it; it can happen to people who are otherwise very intelligent. I find it heartbreaking to watch this happen to people. However, you can be mindful to not fall into such a trap.

Q: Do I have to be your student to learn?

A: It is not at all necessary that you become "my" student. The teachings and practices are universal and apply to all people. These are so vast that some aspects apply more to some people, while other aspects apply more to others. There is no one-size-fits-all, while for all people there is generally the same systematic process of moving inward through levels of our being (actions > senses > body > breath > conscious mind > unconscious mind > beyond). Those who are drawn to this path visit and learn. Most of our learning and teaching is done the old fashioned way, through satsang, being physically together from time to time in a spirit of learning and practice. Though we have a few classes, most will come to visit during our daily meditation and satsang times (See the Calendar for details). Useful gatherings can be found or created virtually anywhere with a little persistence in finding people of what I call "approximate" mind rather than "like" mind, which can seem impossible.

Q: May I be your student by internet?

A: The more valuable lessons happen in face-to-face conversations. This ancient dialogue from oral tradition continues to be one of the highest methods of learning. The still higher form of learning is done from within, through the transmission of shakti, whereby intuitive flash is the source of knowing and direct experience. Oral tradition and transmission go hand in hand. In the absence of oral, face-to-face contact there is much less that can be done via internet. Internet can be a useful means of exchanging information, but misses the greater connection and communication.

Q: I've been meditating for years; why am I stuck?

This is extremely common to hear. People often visit or write and say they've been meditating for many years or decades and still don't feel like they're making progress. Although it's obvious that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, there is one thing that is very common. That is, we are so accustomed to using our senses, particularly seeing and hearing, that we expect that in our meditation. The notion of consciousness operating totally independently of senses is baffling to the waking state mind. Here, we are not talking about whether your senses are trained in the external world, but at the precise moment of attempting meditation. To just sit there in the darkness and silence can seem utterly boring. Yet, this withdrawal of the senses is what sets the stage for going beyond. Take a look at the end of chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras, and you see that the withdrawal of the senses is the end of the chapter on sadhana, or practices (read here about withdrawal of the senses). After that comes the real, subtler meaning of meditation and samadhi.

Another common sticking point is after one has finally learned to still the body, smoothen the breath, and calm the conscious mind, but feels progress lacking. There we can sit for years. What is missed is that we then need to open the door to the unconscious. When we do that, old thoughts come forward in a stronger way than before. We can feel like we're supposed to stop this. We can end up sandwiched between our relative stillness on one side, and this wall over the unconscious on the other. To intentionally invite the unconscious to come forward can seem counterintuitive, yet this is what we must do, remembering that the Self (Atman, Purusha, etc.) that we are seeking to realize is underneath or behind that very unconscious process that we are trying to avoid (See the article on Inviting Thoughts).

Do you believe in reincarnation?

Yes and no. The current combination of identities, habits, samskaras, and karmas which are manifesting as "who we are" at this moment will never again exist in this particular form. However, it seems that the whole universe includes a natural process of recycling and that we are not excluded from that. Only a small percentage of our characteristics has manifested in this current life. Upon physical death of the body these will recede back into the pool of chitta from which these manifested. Some of those in that greater pool of characteristics, attractions, aversions, and predispositions will again cluster together to form the next manifestation, incarnation, or life. From that, there may or may not be conscious memory of the details of this life.

Q: Do I really have to "do" anything for enlightenment?

There is a popular movement in the world today (often part of the modernized nondualism movement) that says you are already enlightened and that you don't need to "do" anything or practice any sadhana. They argue that "doing" anything at all is an obstacle to experiencing enlightenment in the moment. It may ultimately be found to be true that Self has always been there, but that is only after the truly Self-realized person declares that Truth was already there all along, underneath all of the clutter of attractions, aversions, and fears.

However, while they may say that "seeking" is a trap, their own approach is an even bigger trap. There are conscious mind and levels of unconscious mind, beyond which, or underneath of which is the Self or Atman to be realized. In their approach, if you succeed in making the conscious mind calm, still, and serene, that is taken to be enlightenment, especially if you have an intellectual understanding that "all is one," that the ultimate reality is one absolute ever-existing oneness. After all, you are not experiencing any pain or suffering at the moment, so therefore your "awareness" is complete unto itself and you are already enlightened (at least this is their propoganda). However, at this stage, the unconscious has not been experienced, much less transcended. It is only after experiencing, exploring and transcending the unconscious that the Self or Atman is truly known.

In Yoga, santosha or contentment  is the second Niyama, which is the second of eight rungs or limbs. To some people, such as the "do nothing for enlightenment" people, this contentment is confused with samadhi, turiya, or the realization of the Atman or Self. Contentment is a very important step along the way, but it is not the goal unto itself. It is part of the second of eight steps. To mistake this contentment for Self-realization is just another instance of avidya or ignorance.

It has been said that "ignorance is bliss." We can reframe that slightly to say that "ignorance is pseudo bliss." This is the case here, when one may confuse contentment of the conscious mind with transcendence of the whole of the mind and realization of the absolute reality or Brahman. Contentment is a prerequisite, not the goal. Unfortunately, some of the modern nondual "teachers" and their followers are simply living in a psychotic pseudo-bliss.

Q: Do you believe in and provide astrology readings?

I am not a follower or practitioner of astrology. In my youth I was friends with two twin boys. Sometimes their parents dressed them similarly and the similarity of their physical features was obvious, though their personalities were very different. Now, aged early sixties they are very different even in physical appearances. The physical similarities are still visible, but their different lifestyle choices about food, cigarettes and alcoholic drinks over many years overshadows those similarities. It makes no sense to me to think that the positions of stars and galaxies have been lined up for our personal benefit. It seems quite egotistical to think that this is so. However, being a habit of mind to project such things, I do find horoscopes and readings to be entertaining, and occasionally glance at a horoscope in a newspaper or magazine when it happens to be in front of me.

Q: I'm a Christian; can I practice Yoga?

With the increase of "yoga" in the West a significant controversy has arisen over whether Christianity and Yoga are compatible, with many of the conservative Christian clergy being quite outspoken about this (See also Yoga and Institutional Religion).

The majority of Christians who understand the goals of their church and the goals of authentic Yoga would probably not find them compatible. Christians who look beyond the conservative teachings of the formal church bodies and preachers to seek the mystical truths and practices that underlie the teachings will likely find a match with Yoga (See also Yoga and Christianity).

Surely there are many points that can be discussed, but one of the most basic has to do with the world view that there is a being called "God" (as defined by Christians) who is finite and separate from humans. The foundations of Yoga, whether you explore through Samkhya philosophy, Vedanta, or Tantra have to do with the practices leading to the realization that the individual Self is one and the same with the infinite Absolute. It is only the most mystically inclined of Christians who share this view.

Many Christians believe and espouse that we are all born sinners and that our only chance to be "saved" from burning in "hell" is to devote ourselves to one man called Jesus Christ. Yoga rests on very different philosophical foundations, seeing that each human, at his or her core, is perfect, unalloyed consciousness, usually called purusha or atman, which is considered to be one with (yoga=union) the universal consciousness, purusha, or brahman.

Though it's not my intent to sway the opinions of any practicing Christians, it is obvious to me that the individual and the universal are one and the same, as the wave is one with the ocean. The only two ways that most avid Christians are able to practice Yoga is by either significantly distorting and denigrating Yoga beyond recognition (See the article on Christian Yoga), or by seeking out the mystical, esoteric faces of Christianity (in other words, changing ones personal views and definitions of what constitutes Christianity and the teachings of Jesus).

While it is not my intent to convince others (particularly those who self identify as Christian), my comments would not be complete if I did not mention my views about what or who Jesus might have been, as I am asked about this. In reading the whole of the New Testament and studying some of the recorded history of the time he is said to have lived, it seems to me that if he existed at all, he was a great Yoga teacher. I hear in his quoted words some of the messages of Yoga, that of seeking union with the Absolute Reality, which some call God.

Q: Is Yoga a religion?

The issue of whether Yoga is a religion, or is part of a religion (or religions) often comes up. If we look at what the most known religions are doing in the name of their religion, it's pretty clear that Yoga is different, and is not a religion. Yet, Yoga deals with many subtler, deeper aspects of our being in relation to the rest of the universe or reality, which can sound like religion.

A couple of decades ago the word "spiritual" came into common usage (in English parlance) so as to contrast some practices with the dominant organized religions. However, in more recent years the religions seem to increasingly use the word "spiritual" as well, so the discernment is not so clear any more (See also Mysticism, Yoga, and Religion). While I'm not fond of the terms "East" and "West" in that they are not really accurate with the significant blending of people and ideas around the world today, the concepts can shed some light.

In the West, the traditional starting point of religion is that we humans are here, and that God is there, and that they are fundamentally, eternally separate. This is part of the basis of the Western concept of "religion" itself. In the East, the traditional starting point is that all manifests out of one. From that perspective, there is not room for division at that absolute level. While there are surely different traditions with different views, they all rest on that eternal universality. Thus, the very notion of the word "religion" is different.

Yoga rests on the foundation of this kind of world view of universality, or if you prefer, "religious" view (See also the article Is Yoga a Religion?). In the sense of a typical Western view of the word "religion," Yoga is definitely not a religion. In the sense of the typical Eastern view of universality, Yoga leads one to that realization. It is necessary to understand the word "dharma" as a universal principle to understand the relationship of Yoga to "religion" (See the article on Dharma, along with the video that is on that page).

Q: Is meditation a religion?

Like Yoga (above), meditation deals with many subtler, deeper aspects of our being. The style of meditation being described here on this website is not promoting any particular religion. Rather, it systematically deals with senses, body, breath, and mind, leading to the deep stillness and silence that is beyond. Is that a religion? Some would say "yes" and others would say "no."

Obviously, meditation can be done in the context of one's religion. For example, one may "meditate" on the image of their chosen aspect of God, deity, or teacher. Some of the most known religions, sects, or denominations clearly focus on the worship of the teacher, and meditation on his or her bodily form. Whether that style of meditation is what the teacher actually had in mind originally seems to be seldom questioned. Possibly some meditation teachers have become religious icons at the behest of their followers.

Think of a house for a moment. A house is not related to religion. It is not a church or a temple. Yet, if you redecorate the "house" and install signs and symbols on the building, it transforms from a house into a church or temple. So too, meditation itself is simply a systematic process of encountering, dealing with, and going beyond the surface aspects of our being. If you want to superimpose religion on that, you can do so, although at its core meditation is not a religious act, any more than a house is necessarily a temple or church.

Q: Why should I do Yoga? Meditate?

When something stirs deep in the heart or soul, one is drawn to ask the big questions of life, such as "Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Why am I suffering? Where did this world come from? What's going on here? What should I do?" When we have tasted the fruits of the world and find them still to be lacking, however wonderful they may be, we long to know how to look within. Then begins the seeking or searching.

Should I do Yoga? Should I meditate? Why? There comes a point where these questions fade into a certainty that the only way to resolve the bigger questions and find true peace is to turn within, dealing with and going beyond the obstacles, so as to find the deepest level of our own being. There comes a point where we seem to have no choice. We have to do it.

Q: What books should I read?

I have an admitted bias towards the books written by Swami Rama. He has a fabulous way of explaining the difficult in simple terms. English is also a primary language for him, so the writings are not translations, which allows a great clarity to be there.

With that said, I do have a couple basic suggestions. There are thousands of books available and it can become easily overwhelming. One thing to do is to allow yourself to naturally be drawn to some handful of books (maybe four to five or so) that really speak to you, that seem to say it all. Keep those books very close at hand. Read them and reread them, becoming evermore familiar with them. Read them as if you are sitting with that teacher, and that he or she is speaking directly to you. Ask, "what is he telling me here?" or "what does she mean by that?" Look for the action words, the verbs. Ask, "what are you suggesting that I actually do? If you have those few book that are central for you, then any other books can be looked at as supportive. Go ahead and read lots of books if you are drawn to do so, but keep those few nearby, and whatever else you read can be seen in the context of those few. In this way the various processes of the journey can seen to be complementary. (Some of my book recommendations)

There is one very unfortunate thing that needs to be mentioned in relation to books written by Swami Rama. Since he left the body in 1996 the publisher (Himalayan Institute, Pennsylvania, USA) of most of his books has started rewriting his books so as to get new ISBN numbers, which leads the book industry to buy them as they are then technically new releases. Many of the revisions significantly change the message. The worst example is where Swami Rama had pointed out that the unconscious mind was like a "fish" swimming under water. They changed "fish" into "shark" in the posthumous revision, which is obviously extremely different. The solution is to buy the books from this publisher in the used market, finding the ones published before 1996.

Q: Are you a Christian? Did you convert from Christianity?

A: The majority of people born in the United States are raised as followers of Christian religion. However, in this life I have not been initiated (baptized) into the Christian tradition. The parents wished that I be given the freedom to make my own choices about this. I acknowledge the value of some of the written teachings attributed to Jesus and have often studied and practiced them, but have never sought membership or initiation in the Christian tradition.

While I do not profess to be Christian or to teach Christianity, I find some of the principles of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra in the teachings. In light of the fact that scholars do not universally agree on the historical Jesus or related teachings, it seems there is plenty of room for mystics and yogis to see esoteric principles in those teachings, which I occasionally discuss with interested people.

Am I a Christian? No, not specifically, or to the exclusion of others. Most of what I see in modern Christianity appears to me to be quite inaccurate. No, I am NOT going to "burn in hell" for not being a Christian. I, like my teacher Swami Rama, believe that while having teachers is useful, one should not practice worshiping the teacher. What is true is that I am that I am; I am pure consciousness; I am Atman; I am Brahman; I am the Absolute Reality; I am Shakti; I am Shiva.

Q: Are you a Hindu?

A: I quite admire and enjoy the people of Hindu culture. The Hindu culture of India is very much like a second home to me. In fact, the Hindu culture of the Himalayas feels extremely familiar to me (I lived there for over five years), and I'm sure I've lived there before in other incarnations. I also feel quite at home with Hindu people in other countries, including in the US.

However, the term "Hindu" came into popular use only in the most recent couple hundred years. It was reportedly first used by outsiders who were not practitioners, and this was thousands of years after the original teachings. In addition, the term "Hindu" is usually used in a cultural context in addition to, if not instead of, its spiritual orientation (See also the article Yoga and the Words Hindu and Hinduism). One leader of a major Hindu organization in US explained to me that in his opinion the names "Hindu" and "Hinduism" are like a woman taking on the new name of her husband upon marriage. In other words, he acknowledged that these are not the traditional terms, but thinks they are just new identities.

Modern Hinduism is a syncretized phenomena, a combining of independent principles and practices into a new whole that has been called Hinduism. Proponents of this new Hinduism may have very strong beliefs in their religion. I have met many such people and am convinced that there is nothing that I or anybody else can say to help them have an expanded clarity on this.

Take bread as a comparison. Wheat flour is often a primary ingredient of bread, but that does not mean that wheat itself IS bread. Wheat is independent and can be used in many ways other than bread. And for that matter, there are many different kinds of bread, no single one of which is the true exemplar of wheat. Similarly, yoga may be a part of this recent invention called Hinduism, but that does not mean that yoga IS Hinduism.

The term used by the ancients to describe their orientation was "Dharma," but is also said in more expanded terms including "Sanatana Dharma" or "Vedic Dharma." (See the articles What is Sanatana Dharma, Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism and Yoga and the Words "Hindu" and "Hinduism" for more detailed explanations.) Do I refer to myself with the cultural term Hindu? Generally, no, as I was raised in the American culture of the United States, not the Hindu culture of India. Do I practice the Dharma, Vedic Dharma, or Sanatana Dharma teachings and practices of the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, Yoga Sutras and other such sources? Yes, absolutely. These are my greatest source of textual inspiration and joy. I find that I passionately respond to contemplations on the meaning and nature of Dharma. (You might also enjoy the 6-minute video I've made on Sanatana Dharma.)

Am I a Hindu? No, I do not self identify as "Hindu". If I had to say anything along these lines, I would need to say that I am "American", as that is the country of the birth of this body, unlike those born in India or are of Indian origin who use the self-referential cultural term "Hindu." What is true is that I am that I am; I am pure consciousness; I am Atman; I am Brahman; I am the Absolute Reality; I am Shakti; I am Shiva.

Q: Are you a Buddhist?

A: There seems to be two general opinions about Buddha. One is that he started something new, and his teachings are unique. The other is that Buddha learned from others, and that his teachings are an extension of those previous teachings.

Personally, I love the elegant simplicity and straightforwardness of Buddha's outline in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The Zen Buddhist Ox Pictures are also a beautiful representation for me. My inclination is to see Buddha as having learned from others, practiced the teachings, and then provided a great service of presenting the pre-existing teachings and practices in very practical, useful ways.

I find it intriguing that many say Buddha followed only the middle path, not the path of renunciation, while the biographies (though not proveable) say that he left the teaching institution where he studied to go sit under a tree for six years doing the introspective practices. Sitting under a tree for six years hardly sounds like the householder middle-path. It sounds a lot more like the path of renunciation.

No, I don't refer to myself as Buddhist, but I respect much of the teachings and traditions. I see Buddhism as one of the expressions of Dharma, whether one chooses to refer to Sanatana Dharma (the eternal Dharma), Buddhist Dharma (to define the specific teacher), or simply Dharma as a universal process, not the exclusive domain of Buddhism, as many try to suggest and promote (See also the article What is Sanatana Dharma).

Am I a Buddhist? No, not specifically, or to the exclusion of others. What is true is that I am that I am; I am pure consciousness; I am Atman; I am Brahman; I am the Absolute Reality; I am Shakti; I am Shiva.

Q: What is your religion?

A: As a swami, I have embraced the statement, "Aham brahmasmi," "I am brahman, the absolute" (which are not names of a religion). I have also embraced the statement, "Sarvam khalvidam brahman; all of this is of that absolute." Therefore, I see all as emerging from that same One source. In that light, I, as a swami, have renounced exclusive identity with any single religion, seeing all as being unique expressions, having arisen from the same source, though having a diversity of views and practices. Frankly, I have never been a "guy in the sky" sort of religionist; I do not self-identify as a theist.

There is a well known verse from the Rig Veda of some 3000+ BCE, which I quite enjoy: "Ekam sat, viprah bahudha vadanti," which means, "There is a single Truth but the wise call it by different names." To say that everything arises from the same source is not to say that all religions are literally the same, particularly in their most visible faces. People do many things in the name of religion. It seems to me to be completely self-evident that all arose from the same source, like multiple statues might come from the same one pile of clay.

I am quite accepting of the innate right of all people to believe however their mind and familial or cultural conditioning guides them to believe, so long as they do not try to impose it on others, including children who are too young to make their own decisions. The arena of religion with which I do not personally agree or support is that which says, in effect, "I am right and everybody else is wrong. There is only one God, the one I believe in, and with the name I use. There is only one acceptable personal representative of that God. If you do not believe my way, you are wrong, and it is my duty to change you, if not kill you and your family." In other words, I am opposed to proactive conversion, whether done with overt violence or covert manipulation. I see these manipulative or violent tendencies to be among the most destructive aspects of the human condition, whether referring to history or the world today.

If one day I say I am a Buddhist, the next a Christian, the next a Hindu, the next a Jew, the next a Muslim, and the next something else, has the "I" actually changed, or only the opinions of the mind? Who am I? That cannot be answered with a mere opinion of mind. It can only be experienced in the stillness and silence of direct experience, wherein these divisions evaporate. May all humans one day see that we all are of the same one source.

Please also see this related video by me: What if one day?

One day I was sitting at a table, having lunch with a couple people whom I know from an interfaith group (though I do not personally self-identify as a "faith" based person); one was a priest, and the other a lay person of a separate faith. We were talking about what religion one "is," when I said, "I am a table." They smiled, seemed a bit puzzled, and said they didn't understand. I said again, "I am a table." I asked how it is that if a person can say "I am 'this' or I am 'that'" and that the person can change his or her mind the next day, and say, "Now I am 'that' and no longer 'this,'" then why can I not say that I'm a table? How is it that the mind can have this shift of opinions, and literally come to say that this is who I "am"? I asked them whether they might not consider having my locked up as a crazy person if they thought I literally thought I was a table. How is it, then, that I can say that they "are" a "this" or a "that" referring to a religion? If I could (theoretically) be locked up for thinking that I'm a table, wouldn't it make as much sense that they be locked up for thinking that they are "this" or "that" religion? What happened to the observation that I do not know who I am, and that I am seeking to answer or resolve the question, "Who am I?" while recognizing that the answer is not really an "answer" as such, but rather, an experiential reality to be known in direct experience?

Q: What rituals do you perform?

A: I perform no rituals to any god, gods, or deities. Swami Rama succinctly explains of our meditation tradition that "we do not perform any rituals." Please see this related article on gods and beliefs.

Q: What is a swami?

A: The word swami means master; it means striving for the mastery over one's smaller self and habit patterns, so that the eternal Self within may come shining through. The act of becoming a swami is not so much an acting of becoming, of adding on, of allegiance, as it is an act of setting aside, of renunciation. A swami is a monk, one who has set aside all of the limited, worldly pursuits, so as to devote full time effort to the direct experience of the highest spiritual realization, and to the service of others along those lines. Renunciation is not anti-world, in any sense of the world being a bad place. Rather, it is a matter of priorities about how one will spend his or her time, the twenty-four hours in a day, and the seven days in a week.

A swami of the Himalayan tradition will at some point no longer claim allegiance to any particular group or religion, seeing all as the outpouring of the one, indivisible reality, truth, or God, which goes by many names to different people of different cultures, including the word Brahman, the Absolute Reality. The true samnyasi (renunciate or ascetic) does not identify with any form of division or multiplicity. The Sanskrit word samnyasi comes from samnyasyati, meaning he renounces. Sam means together, ni means down, and asyati means he throws. He or she throws down any personal identity whatsoever, including not only those related to physical objects, but also to nationality, religion, work or family identities.

The goal of the samnyasi or swami is "atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha" which means one who strives "for the realization and liberation of the Self and for the benefit of the world." (See the article What is a Swami?)

Q: What was your name and what did you do before?

The past life of a swami is a closed book. The act of becoming a swami is not so much an acting of becoming, of adding on, of allegiance, as it is an act of setting aside, of renunciation, although it is not merely an act of secrecy, of covering up the past as a type of psychological suppression. It is not a negative act, but is a positive affirmation of going forward full-time in the pursuit of the height of direct spiritual experience. In my own case, there is nothing noteworthy that I have left behind of any secret nature, although I have summarized the past in my biographical page on this website. (See bio)

A swami sets aside any personal identity whatsoever, including not only those related to physical objects, but also to nationality, religion, work or family identities. If there is the external appearance of any identities such as these, it is only in the perception of, and for the benefit of others whom the samnyasi may serve. Even the name used by the samnyasi or swami is primarily for the convenience of others. (See the article What is a Swami?)

Q: Are you part of other institutions founded by Swami Rama?

A: There were intense and cruel politics after Swami Rama left the body, mostly stemming from two men falsely claiming to be sole successor, while Swami Rama actually left many of us with the specific assignment to carry on the teachings. These two are heads of institutions and are quite visible publicly, with the appearance that their institution is the authorized center of the tradition being created by effective marketing people. There was, and continues to be a mindset that one must exclusively support one or the other of these two men and their institutions.

For several years I, like many others, have been no longer affiliated with any of these institutions. Recently, however, I've been asked to be on the teaching faculty of Sadhana Mandir (Swami Rama's ashram) in Rishikesh, India. I've agreed to be on the faculty after the board of trustees has decided to rededicate the ashram to Swami Rama's teachings as the current president has moved ever further away from the ashram (building and moving into his own ashram about a mile away), and possibly towards retirement, etc.. I continue to have no formal affiliation with the institutions operated by the two men mentioned above, although I sincerely wish them well in their own personal development and spiritual practices, as well as in their service to others.

Q: What institution is the real heir of the tradition?

A: Swami Rama explains it best when he points out that the tradition is of the Himalayan caves and is not related to the institutions of the plains. This is not said in opposition to institutions, but to discern between organizations and the ancient practice of more experienced people guiding the less experienced in very personal, intimate, non-institutional ways. My own journey has been like that. While I've been around some institutions, the real teachings have been given internally "in" meditation, along with private times with Swami Rama. My favorite, and most useful times with him were walks along the Ganges in Rishikesh, Himalayas. Those internal teachings and walks had nothing to do with institutions. In a similar way, there is no institution that is the heir to the tradition. It is only lack of understanding that might lead one to believe that this is so.

Q: Who is Swami Rama's successor?

A: Without getting into the details, which would sound like lots of political gossip, there are two men who have most visibly claimed to be "the" successor of Swami Rama. There are others as well, but these two are most visible. Many people have been swayed into believing one or the other. Although Swami Rama named no single successor, he did leave many of us with the specific assignment to carry on the teachings, including me (no, I am not one who claims to be sole successor).

When Swami Rama left the body, I was living in, and was physically present in his Rishikesh, India ashram. The ashram is near the Himalayan Institute Hospital, where Swamiji was residing (in his apartment there) when he left the body. About two or three days after he left, one representative of one of these men was sent to me to say something like, "Now there will be politics, and you must decide whose side you will be on." I responded that I would not take sides with one against the other. In the battle between these two, it has become a case that if you are not with him, you are perceived as being against him. Many people have thus been either directly thrown out of these institutions or made to feel so unwelcome and uncomfortable that there is almost no other choice than to leave.

There is, in fact, no indication whatsoever that Swami Rama left a successor in the conventional, institutional sense of the word. For myself, I continue to do what I was trained to do, and asked to do, which is to teach from direct experience of our tradition of the Himalayan masters, knowing that the guru tradition works through me.

Q: Is Swami Rama a bad guy?

A: The more you do in the world, the more you are attacked. There it is, in it's most succinct summary. Swami Rama even told me that people would give me a hard time in that many people give swamis a hard time. Not surprisingly, I have found him right. Somebody is always around to throw stones. Some have said that Swami Rama is a bad guy in a variety of different ways, which need not be listed here. I never knew a bad guy version of Swami Rama. I have no personal knowledge at all that would support any allegations of Swamiji being a bad guy (I'm using this phrase "bad guy" as a catch-all term). If truth of the motives and actions of the complainants was publicly known, some would likely have been convicted of fraud and imprisoned.

If you are reading this with a personal curiosity, please note that some of us are highly visible in the world. In my case that comes from publishing this extensive website. It is common that some person will write an email to me (usually without any personal introduction of who he or she is) wanting to get into some lengthy discussion about allegations relating to Swami Rama and the institutions he founded. While I understand and personally relate to having an active curiosity, after some time it just gets old, and I have no interest in engaging in such dialogues. That is not meant to be evasive; it's just the reality. I prefer to spend my time serving people.

What you are reading right now in this paragraph is what I know. Swami Rama is the real thing, as one of the most advanced masters of the Himalayas. That's what I know.

If you write to me about this subject, I will most likely just send you a link to the information you are now reading.

Will you help me with my problems?

Questions often come by email that are different versions of the basically same question, "I have problems in life. Will you please solve them for me?" I have great compassion for the bumps and potholes of life. However, life obstacles can hardly be solved by email, if at all by another. Yet, there is a yogic principle that is very useful. That is, wisdom is inside of each of us. There is an inner voice that knows most, if not all of our problems, and has some pretty reliable assessment of some of the steps we can follow to resolve the problems. The wisdom of buddhi can be cultivated, questioned, and followed. Often, we just don't listen to that inner voice. What is needed foremost is to question and listen to our own inner wisdom. In all likelihood there are resources very close to home that can help us move through obstacles. For those who visit me face to face, I am happy to talk about this approach to exploring, finding, and following inner wisdom.

Q: What should I do?

A: This may be the biggest question of all. I have great compassion for sincere seekers who are seeking to find their way. I have that compassion because I have been there myself. There are two things that I often suggest as most important.

First, is to make a clear decision about what is the single most important goal of your life. It doesn't matter what specific word or phrase you use, whether enlightenment, to know Truth, to attain Self-Realization, or some other word or phrase you feel drawn to that captures the goal for you, personally, at a deep level. Allow that word or phrase to become the benchmark against which all other priorities are established and decisions made.

Second, cultivate a firm, unwavering, unbroken, determined commitment that you will constantly move in this direction, that you will persist until your last breath. It is a stance of never giving up, yet always surrendering. With your clear first priority and strong conviction, all of the methods, teachers, classes, or other means will come. This really is how this works; this is what I have been taught and what I have experienced. Oh yes, in your heart, love all and exclude none.





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.




Yoga Nidra Meditation CD by Swami Jnaneshvara
Yoga Nidra CD
Swami Jnaneshvara