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Faith And Determination

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I have just started reading "Living with Himalayan Masters" by Swami Rama. If there are any good pieces of knowledge or messages I will post in this thread.

Crossing a Flooded River

Students are many; disciples are few. Many students came to my master and requested, “Please accept me as your disciple.” They all showed their faithfulness by serving him, by chanting, by learning, and by practicing disciplines. He did not respond. One day he called everyone to him. There were twenty students. He said, “Let’s go.” Everyone followed him to the bank of the Tungbhadra River in South India. It was in full flood, very wide and dangerous. He said, “He who can cross this river is my disciple.”

One student said, “Sir, you know I can do it, but I have to go back to finish my work.” Another student said, “Sir, I don’t know how to swim.” I didn’t say anything. As soon as he said it, I jumped. He sat down quietly as I crossed the river. It was very wide. There were many crocodiles, and huge logs were rolling with the currents of water, but I was not concerned. My mind was one-pointed on completing the challenge I was given. I loved to be challenged, and I always accepted a challenge joyfully. It was a source of inspiration for me to examine my own strength. Whenever I was tired I would float, and in this way I succeeded in crossing the river.

My master said to the other students, “He didn’t say that he was my disciple, but he jumped.”

I was close enough to him to know his power. I thought, “He wants his disciples to cross the river. Here I am. I can do it. It’s nothing, because he is here. Why can’t I do it?” So firm were my faith and determination.

Faith and determination, these two are the essential rungs on the ladder of enlightenment. Without them the word “enlightenment” can be written and spoken, but never realized. Without faith we can attain some degree of intellectual knowledge, but only with faith can we see into the most subtle chambers of our being. Determination is the power that sees us through all frustrations and obstacles. It helps in building willpower, which is the very basis of success within and without. It is said in the scriptures that with the help of sankalpa shakti (the power of determination) nothing is impossible. Behind all the great works done by the great leaders of the world stands this shakti. With this power behind him, such a leader says, “I will do it; I have to do it; I have the means to do it.” When this power of determination is not interrupted, one inevitably attains the desired goal.

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My Offering to My Master

What did I offer my master? I will tell you. When I received my second step of initiation, at the age of fifteen, I had nothing with me. I thought, “All these rich people come with baskets of fruit, flowers, and money to offer to their teachers, but I have nothing to give.”

I asked my master, “Sir, what is the best thing for me to offer?” He said to me, “Bring me a bundle of dry sticks.”

I thought, “Surely if someone brings such sticks to his teacher, his teacher will kick him.” But I did as he instructed. I brought him a bundle of dry sticks, and he said, “Offer it to me with all your heart, mind, and soul.”

I looked at him and thought, “He is so wise and educated. What has happened to him today?”

He said, “This is the greatest gift that you can ever give me. People want to give me gold, silver, land, a house. These valuables mean nothing to me.” My master explained that when you offer a bundle of dry sticks to a guru he understands that you are prepared to tread the path of enlightenment. It means “Please relieve me from my past, and burn all my negative thinking in the fire of knowledge.”

He said, “I will burn these dry sticks so that your past karmas do not affect your future. Now I am giving you a new life. Do not live in the past. Live here and now and start treading the path of light.”

Most people brood on the past and do not know how to live here and now. That is the cause of their suffering.

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Maya, the Cosmic Veil

One day I said to my master, “Sir, I have been taught that avidya [ignorance] and maya [illusion] are one and the same. But I do not really understand what maya is.”

He often taught by demonstration, so he said, “Tomorrow morning I will show you what maya is.”

I could not sleep that night. I thought, “Tomorrow morning I am going to meet maya.”

The next day we went for our morning ablutions as usual. Then we met again afterwards. We bathed in the Ganges. Afterwards I did not feel like I could sit for meditation because I was so excited by the prospect of the mystery of maya being unveiled.

On our way back to the cave we came upon a big, dry trunk of a tree. My master rushed up to the tree and wrapped himself around it. I had never seen him run so fast before.

He called out, “Are you my disciple? Then help me!”

I said, “Huh? You have helped so many people, and today you need my help? What has happened to you?” I was afraid of that tree. I wouldn’t go near it because I feared it would also entrap me. I thought, “If the tree also entraps me, then who will help us both?”

He cried, “Help me! Take hold of my foot and try your best to pull me away.” I tried with all my might, but I could not separate him from the tree.

Then he said, “My body has been caught by this tree trunk.” I exhausted myself trying to pull him from the tree.

Finally I stopped to think and I said to him, “How is this possible? The tree trunk has no power to hold you. What are you doing?” He laughed and said, “This is maya.”

My master explained anadi vidya—cosmic illusion—to me just as Shankara had described it. He said that avidya means individual ignorance, while maya is both individual and cosmic illusion. Ma means “no” and ya means “that”: that which is not self-existent, yet appears to exist, like a mirage, is called maya.

Then he explained another school of philosophy, which maintains that maya is universal illusion and also the mother of the universe. He told me that in tantra philosophy maya is considered to be both cosmic shakti and the primal force, or kundalini—the latent force in all human beings. By focusing one’s awareness on the Absolute, this sleeping force is awakened within and directed toward the center of consciousness. When one comes in touch with this power he can easily attain the highest level of consciousness. Those who do not awaken this force of shakti remain forever brute and ignorant.

After describing the philosophies of maya he said, “When we devote our mind, energy, and resources to believing in that which is non-existent, then it appears to exist, and that is maya. Don’t contemplate on evil, devils, sins, avidya, or maya and thereby put yourself in a state of stress and worry. Even spiritual people become preoccupied with blaming the world for their lack of progress. This weakness is significant in creating obstacles. For lack of sincerity, honesty, faithfulness, and truthfulness we do not realize that which we are. We project our weaknesses and think that the objects of the world are the source of our obstacles.”

He told me to practice non-attachment and constant awareness. He said, “The strongest of bondages is created by attachment, which makes one weak, ignorant, and unaware of the absolute Reality. Maya, or illusion, is deeply rooted in attachment. When we are attached to or have a desire for something, it becomes a source of illusion for us. Those who are free from attachments and have directed their desires toward spiritual growth are free from the bondage of maya—illusion. The less attachment, the more inner strength; the more inner strength, the nearer the goal. Vairagya and abhyasa—non-attachment and constant awareness of absolute Reality—are like two wings of a bird which can fly from the plane of mortality to the height of immortality. Those who do not allow their wings to be clipped by the illusion of maya can attain perfection.

“Many people confuse attachment with love. But in attachment you become selfish, interested in your own pleasure, and you misuse love. You become possessive and try to gain the objects of your desires. Attachment creates bondage, while love bestows freedom. When yogis speak of non-attachment they are not teaching indifference, but are teaching how to genuinely and selflessly love others. Non-attachment, properly understood, means love. Non-attachment or love can be practiced by those who live in the world as well as those who are renunciates.”

The message which I received on the sands of the Ganges in the Himalayas helped me to understand that illusion is self-induced. By imparting this knowledge my beloved master made me aware of the nature of cosmic illusion and the individual barriers we create.

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This chapter has got me totally re-evaluating what is it I'm searching for? Even though I thought I understood that god was within and outside did I really understand the message. Probably not.

You teach Others but not me?

You Teach Others but Deprive Me One day I told my master, “You have been cheating me.” When we are inadequate ourselves but our ego is strong, we tend to blame others.

He asked, “What’s the matter?” I said, “You think I am still a child, and you are withholding things from me.” “Tell me, what am I withholding?”

“You are not showing me God. Perhaps you cannot, but can only teach me about God. If that is the limit of your powers, then you should be honest.”

He answered, “I will show you God tomorrow morning.” I asked, “Really?”

He replied, “Most certainly . . . are you prepared?”

I used to meditate regularly before going to bed, but that night I could not. I was sure that in the morning I would get to see God, so what was the point of meditating? I was so restless and excited I did not sleep the whole night. Early in the morning I went to my master. I did not even bathe. I thought, “When my master is showing me God, why take time for a bath?” I just slapped my face, patted down my hair, and presented myself to him.

He said, “Take your seat.” I thought, “Now he is going to show me God.” I was seldom humble, but I became extraordinarily humble that morning. I bowed before him many times. He looked at me and said, “What has happened to you? What is this funny business? Why are you abnormally emotional?”

I said, “Did you forget? You promised that you would show me God.”

He said, “Okay, let me know what type of God you are prepared to see.”

I said, “Sir, are there many types?”

He asked, “What is your concept and definition of God? I’ll show you God exactly according to your conviction and definition. Everyone wants to see God without having any firm conviction of God in their minds and hearts. If you are searching and are not firm and sure regarding the object of your search, what will you find? If I tell you that whatsoever you see is God, you are not going to be satisfied. If I say God is within you, still you won’t be satisfied. Suppose I show you God and you say, ‘No, that’s not God.’ What am I going to do then? So you tell me the way you think about God and I will produce that God for you.”

I told him, “Wait a moment. Let me think.”

He said, “God is not within the range of your thinking. Go back to your meditation seat and when you are ready, let me know. Come to see me anytime you want after you have decided what type of God you want to see. I don’t lie—I’ll show you God. That is my duty, to show you God.”

I tried my best to imagine what God would be like, but my imagination could not go beyond the human form. My mind ranged over the kingdom of plants, then the kingdom of animals, then human beings. So I imagined a wise and handsome man, who was very strong and powerful. And I thought, “God must look like this.” Then I realized that I was making a foolish demand. What could I experience when I didn’t have clarity of mind?

Finally I went to my master and said, “Sir, show me that God who can free us of miseries, and who can give us happiness.”

He said, “That is a state of equilibrium and tranquility which you must cultivate for yourself.”

Without having clarity of mind, a mere desire to see God is just like groping in the dark. I found out that the human mind has its boundaries and can visualize only according to its limited resources. No human being can possibly explain what God is, or conceive of God mentally. One can say God is truth, a fountain of love, absolute Reality, or the One Who manifested this universe. But these are all abstract ideas which do not satisfy the desire to see God. Then what is there to be seen? Those who believe God is a being can imagine and see a vision, but in reality God cannot be seen through human eyes. God can only be realized by realizing the real self and then the self of all.

So when a student has the attitude “I want to see God; my teacher is not showing me God; my teacher is not giving me what I want,” he must finally realize that it is not a matter of the teacher’s duty. Find out if you are making inappropriate demands, and instead of demanding from the teacher, transform yourself from within. God is within you, and that which is within you is subject to self-realization. No one can show God to anyone else. One has to independently realize his real self; thereby he realizes the self of all, which is called God. In the state of ignorance, the student thinks that God is a particular being, and he wants to see that being exactly as he sees something in the external world. It never happens. But when he realizes that God is truth and practices truth in action and speech, then his ignorance about the nature of God disappears and self-realization dawns.

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If the above post is correct then what about the following lines in Gurbani:

Ang 893
In the Word of the Guru`s Bani is the wealth of the unstruck sound current.
anhad banee poonjee.

The Saints hold the key to it in their hands.
santan hath raakhee koonjee.

They sit there, in the cave of deep Samaadhi;

sunn samaaDh gufaa tah aasan.

the unique, perfect Lord God dwells there.

kayval barahm pooran tah baasan.

God holds conversations with His devotees.

bhagat sang parabh gosat karat.

There is no pleasure or pain, no birth or death there.
tah harakh na sog na janam na marat.

One whom the Lord Himself blesses with His Mercy,
kar kirpaa jis aap divaa-i-aa.

obtains the Lord`s wealth in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy.
saadhsang tin har Dhan paa-i-aa.

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There is too much knowledge in this book that is useful, motivational and just shire enjoyable reading. A lot of it is probably too deep and spiritual for me to comprehend so rather an copying and pasting every chapter that has a brilliant message I'm just going to paste the link to the book and those who feel inspired to want to read more can do so.

I can't recommend this book enough.


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How many of us would know if we were hallucinating?

Misuse of a Mantra / Hallucinations

There are some manuscripts in the monastery to which access is strictly prohibited. No one is allowed to read them except the head of the monastery. They are called Prayoga Shastras; they describe very advanced practices.

My master used to say, “You are not to experiment with those manuscripts.” But I was obstinate and eager to know what was written in them. I was eighteen years old, fearless but somewhat irresponsible. I thought, “I am quite advanced. Why did they write these manuscripts if they are to be left unused? I should do experiments with the practices in these manuscripts. My master is very powerful; he will protect me if anything goes wrong.”

My master gave me one of these manuscripts to carry for him on a journey. He said, “Do not open it.” I was very curious and resolved, “If he leaves this manuscript with me and I find myself alone, I am going to read it.”

One evening we came upon a small dwelling on a bank of the Ganges. My master went inside the hut to rest. I thought, “Here is my chance to study the manuscript.” There were no windows and only one door in the little dwelling. I locked the door from the outside. I thought that I would spend the whole night discovering what was in the manuscript. It was a moonlit night and I could see clearly. The manuscript was wrapped and tied with a string. I took my time to unwrap it and then started reading. It described a certain
practice and the effects it would produce.

After reading for an hour I thought, “Why not try it?” So I put the manuscript aside. It said that only very advanced yogis should do this practice and that if it were not done properly it was very dangerous. At that young age I thought I was very advanced, so I commenced doing it. It involved the repetition of a special mantra in a particular style, with certain rituals. That mantra awakens a power outside of a person as well as inside.

The book said that the mantra had to be repeated one thousand and one times. I repeated it nine hundred times and nothing seemed to be happening. I concluded there would be no effect. But when I came to nine hundred and forty, I saw a huge woman nearby. She gathered some wood and started making a fire. Then she put water in a big vessel and put it on the fire to boil. By then I had counted to nine hundred sixty-three. The last I counted was nine hundred seventy, and after that I lost track because I saw a huge man coming from the same direction. At first I thought, “This must be the effect of the mantra. I’ll not look at him, and complete the one thousand and one repetitions.” But he started coming toward me. I had never before seen or even imagined such a gigantic man, and he was completely nude.

He asked the woman, “What have you cooked for me?”

She said, “I have nothing. If you give me something, I’ll cook it.”

He pointed at me and said, “Look at him sitting over there. Why don’t you cut him into pieces and cook him?”

When I heard that, my teeth clenched and the mala I was counting with fell from my hand. I fainted. I don’t know how long I remained unconscious. When I regained consciousness my master was standing in front of me. He slapped me on the cheek and said, “Hey, wake up.” I would become conscious momentarily and exclaim, “Oh, that giant is going to carve me up!” and then lapse into a faint again. This happened three or four times, until finally my master kicked me, became more insistent, and said, “Get up! Why have you
done this? I told you not to practice these mantras. And you locked me in, you foolish boy.”

From this experience I came to realize the power of mantra. I started practicing the mantra which my master had given me and I began to count on it even for little things. I did many foolish and silly things when I was young, but my mantra, which created awareness for me, always helped me to come out of those situations.

If mantra is not properly used with spiritual discipline, it can lead to hallucinations, as it did for me. Hallucinations are the products of an impure and untrained mind. Mantra becomes helpful when the mind is purified and directed inward. Without knowing the meaning of the mantra, the proper feeling cannot be aroused, and without strong feeling, mantra and its technical repetition is not of much use.

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Lust and greed never satisfy anyone. Desires for possessions increase incessantly and finally become a whirlpool of miseries. Such ignorance cannot be dispelled by going to the temple, worshipping in the church, listening to sermons, or performing rituals. For centuries human beings have been fulfilling their desires, yet they are still miserable. To attain the ultimate Reality it is necessary to free oneself from the desire for non-essential encumbrances.

Possessing more than necessary only creates obstacles for oneself. It is a waste of time and energy. Fulfilling wants and desires without understanding needs and necessities deviates one from the path of awareness. Desire is the mother of all misery. When the desires for worldly attainments are directed toward attaining self-awareness, then the same desire becomes a means. At this stage the desire, instead of becoming an obstacle, becomes a useful instrument for self-realization.

This can be explained by a simple simile. A candle light is extinguished by the breeze very easily, but if that light is protected and allowed to catch the forest, it will grow into a forest fire. Then the breeze helps that fire instead of extinguishing it. Similarly, when an aspirant, with the help of discipline, protects the flame of desire burning within, it grows more and more. Then all the adversities, instead of becoming obstructions, in fact start becoming means.

The obstacles which are supposed to obstruct the path of selfrealization are not really obstacles. Our weaknesses and the values we impose on the objects of the world create these obstacles for us. Attachment is one of the strongest obstacles created by us. With the help of non-attachment we can overcome such obstructions.

There are four ways of removing these obstacles.

First, if there is no object, the human mind cannot become attached to it. Renouncing the object is one way, but it seems to be quite difficult for ordinary people.

Second, while having all the objects of the world, if we learn the technique of using them as means, then the objects are not able to create obstacles for us. On this path, attitudes need to be transformed. One who has transformed his attitudes can change his bad circumstances into favorable ones.

The third way is the path of conquest, in which one learns to do his actions skillfully and selflessly, surrendering the fruits of
his actions for the benefits of others. Such a person becomes detached and safely crosses the ocean of life.

Fourth, by self-surrender one surrenders himself and all that he owns to the Lord and leads a life of freedom from all attachments. This path seems to be easy but is really rather difficult.

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