Sivananda Yoga FAQ
Q 1: When I sit for prayers, the lower mind wanders astray, but the other mind recites the Stotras without the slightest flaw, because of habit. But when I consciously try to recite the prayers, I sometimes miss the link, and have at times to repeat a Stotra from the beginning. Thus, are there two minds? How to overcome this difficulty?
A: There are no two minds. But the mind gets concentration little by little, and the portion of the mind which is spiritually inclined — call it the higher mind — engages itself in Sadhana, whereas that part of the mind which is more aware of its worldly Samskaras runs along its set grooves. Force of habit makes the repetition of prayers mechanical. But the higher mind should be made to concentrate on the meaning. Then the attention of the mind will be held and the lower part of the mind will have less opportunity to detract from the object in view. The whole trouble with careless Sadhana is that it tends to become mechanical without making an impression on the life of the aspirant.
Q 2: At times I feel that I am entrapped in Maya and try to extricate myself. At other times I feel that I am the Atma which is changeless and pure. I am looking for your Kripa which will certainly take me out of this ocean of troubles. Any instructions?
A: You are in the struggling stage. You are doubtless progressing. You will soon be established in your real swaroop. Fear not. Plod on. Persevere. Don’t look back. March on boldly. The goal is very near. Be a Sakshi of all your actions. You are Asanga, Akarta (unattached, non-doer). Thou art that Immortal Atma!
Q 3: What are the marks of spiritual progress? How can I know whether he is advanced in the spiritual path or not?
A: Peace, cheerfulness, contentment, dispassion, fearlessness and an unperturbed state of mind under all conditions indicate that you are advancing in the spiritual path. Spiritual progress is not measured by Siddhis or powers, but only by the depth of your bliss in meditation. These are sure tests of your spiritual progress:
- Is your interest in inner spiritual activity and outer Sadhana increasing day after day?
- Does spiritual life mean to your consciousness a matter of great delight, a delight far transcending the happiness that the world of vital pleasures affords you or offers you?
- Has your personal awareness come to a possession of a sense of peace and strength which men who are not aspirants do not find in their everyday lives?
- Do you feel certain that your power of discrimination and light of thought have been steadily growing?
- Is your life being gradually led to such experiences which reveal to you the operation of a will and intelligence other than your own, the will and intelligence of the Omnipotent Lord?
- Has there come into the conscious activities of your everyday life, the active function of a new delightful angle of vision, a new perspective, a strong sense of self-possession, a steadily growing conviction of your dependence upon and intimate relation with the all-pervading Divinity?
If your answers to all these questions or to any one of them are in the affirmative, be absolutely sure that you are progressing, and progressing speedily, in the spiritual path.
The initial stages in Sadhana will be one of ups and downs. Obstacles and unfavourable circumstances are God-sent chances to make you more steady and strong in will. – Swami Sivananda
01 New Moon
02 Ganesha Chathurthi
Seek the immortal Atman hidden in the cave within your heart. – Sri Swami Sivananda
VAIRAGYA – Non-attachment; Dispassion
Commentary from Swami Vishnudevananda –
“What is the cause of all problems, individual as well as universal?The root which everything spreads out? Attachment. Attachment is the cause of all pain. For example, this glass is very special. I bought it at an auction and it was used by King George 100th!! King George 100th used this glass. It is MINE. D. said, “Is that so Swami-ji? Can you give it to me – I would also like to have it.” “No way,” I said, as I held it tight. When I go to sleep I lock it up in a special vault with a special lock and put on a special electronic alarm, so if anyone tries to touch it I will know. I am unable to sleep because of this glass. Any sound I hear I think someone is after my glass. L. is coming over. She is only trying to be friendly because of the glass. I trust no-one now. I ask Swami P. to check on D. to see what he is up to, but later I see Swami P. and D. outside talking together. Oh my God, they are plotting against me for my glass.
What we call love – L.O.V.E. becomes completely depleted because of attachment. This applies to anything. I just took an example of the glass, but it could be to anything, to money, to anything. Our main problem is that we get attached to various objects. And why do we get attached? Two things are the cause of attachment. The two causes of attachment are I-ness and Mine-ness. You want an object because you think you can get happiness from it. You then get attached to it. ” It is mine. I own it.” I-ness and Mine-ness are the root cause of all problems.
Swamis and Yogis also get into problems. ” This is my Yoga Centre, my disciples, my money.” They also get attached, but to different things. The purpose of life is to get rid of this problem. But we do not even know that we have it as a problem. We do not recognize the level of our attachment to things. Nor do we recognize the trap of attachment. Slowly Maya (illusion) binds us.
Attachments can come slowly. We are not aware that they are slowly creeping up on us. The movement is very subtle. This is why an aspirant should have purity, so he can understand and become aware of the subtle attachments, by which he can so easily be trapped. This problem is not because you are living in society. People who live in the Himalayas, the forest or in the jungles may not have attachment to the same objects as a city dweller, but they become attached to their kamandalus (water pot). They decorate them, put their initials on them and become possessive or envious of another’s. Attachment is not about having or not having, a house or a big car. You can get attached to even the smallest thing and the same problem, the same pain, will result.
Overcome the self by the Self. Become a yogi. – Sri Swami Sivananda