Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International

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Himalayan tradition
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  AHYMSIN newsletter, Issue - March 2012  

Swami Veda Bharati in Thailand

by little student of Himalayan Yoga and Meditation”

After several months of hard works on preparation, it appears unbelievable that this amazing event had already passed by a month. This was Swami Veda Bharati’s last visit to Thailand before he enters his planned 5-7 years silence retreat from March 2013. As his student, everything about this event has further strengthened my faith in Himalayan yoga and meditation tradition and catapulted my own personal development into the higher level. It has reminded me of the value and power of “surrender” and willingness to take risk (of not knowing what will happen), which are key characteristics for one looking for progress in his/her spiritual path.  

So, what do we surrender to? This is not an easy question to answer as we all have our own identifications to our personalities, our ways of doing things, basically the ego. From my personal experiences resulting from over 12 years of being Swamiji’s student, I would say that the real surrender is to the Guru, God, Divine consciousness or the way of Dhamma; whichever name you like to call it. Ultimately, this is surrender to one’s own essential nature, the Buddha nature, Holy Spirit or highest state of wisdom that exists in each of us. In yoga terms, this state is called “Guru within”. To all those highest spiritual beings (who are united in their vast and unlimited consciousnesses and who are leading spiritual seekers to their Gurus within), I bow my head in humility.

It was Himalayan Masters who have planned this event since last year.

The manner in which this event was materialized was indeed an unusual one. Swamiji’s original plan did not include Thailand in his 2012 schedule. He intended his visit in January 2011 to be his last for Thailand. Shortly, after his visit, Reno (Thailand), which manufactures and distributes one of the top fashion brands in Thailand, AIIZ, had invited him to come back to Thailand to give a spiritual lecture to its employees. Reno (Thailand) was very generous to allow others outside the firm to join this lecture as well and quite a number of people had signed up. Unfortunately (which turned out to be fortunately in the end), due to business emergency which could not be avoided, AIIZ regrettably needed to cancel all arrangements half way through. We were quite disappointed that he was not coming at the time, not realizing that something much greater would be coming less than a year later.

Because of the incident, Swamiji later adjusted his plan and included Thailand in his ASIAN schedule for 2012, and we know this would really be his last visit to Thailand. At first, I and his other students planned to organize only a two-hour lecture (as we normally did for him for his past visits). However, it seemed the Himalayan Masters wanted different things. One day, Teacher Kay (Rossukon), who runs Budharas Yoga, had invited me for dinner which was joined by Teacher Lek (Ekachai). During the course of our conversation, I casually mentioned to them about Swamiji’s coming in February 2012. Out of the blue, both suggested that we organize a spiritual retreat for him. They sensed from attending his lecture last year that there would be lots of people who could derive much greater benefits from the retreat than spending only 1-2 hours listening to his lecture

I was reluctant at first. The plan seemed too big to handle. So many questions arose: who would help with the organization, financing and etc ? How many would be willing to spend 3 days 2 nights and pay the money for meditation retreat when they can easily get Dhamma Teachings from Buddhist temples given that Thailand is one of the strongest bases for Buddhism?  What about Swamiji’s health?  Luckily, the two teachers made me feel reassured by offering to provide any support they could, inspiring me to overcome my own sense of uncertainties and inner feeling of insecurity. When I wrote to Swamiji, I had expected a “No” answer (due primarily to his health condition). Instead, he said it was a wonderful idea. Clearly, Himalayan Masters willed this event to happen and it had to be that way.

An opportunity to practice selfless love and services - helps flow from everywhere.

Swamiji’s lectures in Thailand in the past were always donation-based events. A spiritual retreat, however, required attendance fee due to the need for the accommodation, foods and conference facilities. A sudden thought came to my mind. First, we need a special price to make it affordable (we did not add profit as we wanted donations to come willingly from love and faith in our Masters). Second, we need donations to subsidize those who could not meet even the special price. Swami Veda has set a very good selfless example. He never demands payment and in many occasions allows people to stay at his ashram in Rishikesh without paying a single dollar if he senses that they simply do not have enough. We wanted to use this opportunity to practice what he has shown us for years.

With introduction by Teacher Lek, we had received exceptionally kind assistance from Mr. Arrut Navaraj, the owner of Rose Garden Riverside, that allowed us to price the fee at a very reasonable level. Mr.Piya and Ms.Mayurachat Thanakitamnuay, the owners of the Reno (Thailand), have been very generous in financial and moral supports. Tippy (Supornthip Choungransee), who has a long standing relationship with Swamiji and is one of his most beloved daughters, provided personal financial support and helped with great public relation work.

Dr. Kampanart Buahombura, the Master of crystal singing bowl and the president of Baan Thor Phan, Teacher Lek, and Teacher Kay offered to be special guest speakers for the event, without any hesitation and without demanding any fee. Teacher Kavee of Thai Yoga Institution as usual lovingly offered his service on translating several programs at the retreat. Great helps and coordination also came from Bangkok Yoga, Yoga Aum, Manduka, TMP suppliers. Eric Levine of Carifornia Wow Xperirence took good care of Swamiji before he arrived at Rose Garden. Secret Magazine did a great job in promoting the event to the circle of members, most of them spiritual seekers. Finally, lots of participants granted us financial supports, being a part of our intention to facilitate mission of Himalayan Masters.

Special thanks to Sopa Tamachotiponse, Thanawalai Jaroenjandang and all volunteers for their hard works in perfectly coordinating and handling small details of the events; Patrick Youngyuen and Jiya for doing a great MC jobs. We are very grateful to all these people as without their kindnesses and generosities, we would not have been able to achieve what we had.

Bridging Yoga with Buddhism, Christianity and all religions

Himalayan Yoga and Meditation tradition preserves authentic spiritual philosophy and practices, leading to the eventual goal of all human beings. This goal is called by many terms in different religions or traditions: enlightenment, nirvana, Self-realisation, Moksha, a complete union with God or Divine Consciousness, living with a Farther in eternal Heaven.
Whatever term used by whoever, the “Ultimate Truth” is only one. Thus, this “Ultimate Truth” includes all religions and spiritual paths.  From my experiences, not many people understand what is Himalayan Yoga and Meditation tradition and I have long held the desires in my mind to have the tradition introduced in its pure form to Thai people. And finally, this call had been answered at this event.

Because of the concerns for Swamiji’s health, we originally arranged only a meditation practice course for Swami Veda, so that he did not have to expend his energy in giving dhamma talks. To my surprise, just one day before the retreat started, I unexpectedly received a call from Swamiji. He expressed his intention to address the relationship between authentic yoga practice and all religions, particularly Buddhism. I was extremely delighted and was even more joyful after the retreat was over. Several people said to me the retreat was far better than their expectations and the questions in their minds were resolved.

In contrast to his normal approaches when giving lecture, this time Swamiji quoted several statements from various scriptural texts - Tripitaka, Bible, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Bhagavat Gita, Mahabharata, Vedas, etc  - and clearly pointed out to the audience that the essence of their teachings are one and the same. At one point, he was joking to the audience that he did know whether he followed the path of Buddhism, Hinduism or Christianity.   The division occurs everywhere in the world (my personal opinion is that this is the way of Samsara where individual ego rules).

Samatha or Vipassana for Buddhists?

The division also has its place among followers of all religious founders. In Thailand where Buddhism is the mainstream religion, Samatha (Samadhi) and Vipassana (Panya) practices have become mutually exclusive for many, and there have been debates about which one leads to enlightenment. In this respect, Swamiji beautifully explained that Samatha and Vipassana practices are always combined. Without resulting Panya, Samatha is not real Samatha. Without Samatha, real Panya cannot arise in the practisioners’ mind. In fact, Sila virtue) is another component in the combination. He quoted a statement from Tripitaka that one who can maintain Sila, Samathi (Samatha) and Panya or wisdom (Vipassana) at every moment in life, that person is very close to Nirvana (Nibhana). I found that Swamiji’s teachings were in line with the teachings of Venerable Ajahn Chah (one of the most revered Buddhist monks by Thai as well as foreigners).

Swamiji encouraged all Thai Buddhists to follow both paths simultaneously as he would like us to have a complete path.  Although one is suited to do more Samatha or Vipassana at the current stage of his/her spiritual development, eventually one moves ahead to the point where he/she needs to do more of the other one. He explained that the Great Masters taught each disciple differently. Out of immaturity, the disciples later quarreled among themselves and defended that their knowledge only was based upon correct teachings, not realizing that they are speaking against the teachings from their own teachers. He went on to say that Lord Krishna’s, Jesus’ and Buddha’s consciousnesses are so vast that they cover the entire universe and beyond and for them everything is included; there is no room left to be defined as difference. As spiritual seekers, we need to expand our consciousness and personality to truly know from our own experiences the teachings of Buddha, Jesus and Krishna; and at that level, all conflicts fall apart naturally – there is no more need to make a futile debate. Swamiji also encouraged us to remember the highest goal of attaining Nibhana at every single moment in our lives.

Philosophy of Hatha Yoga; Mantra initiation as a link to one’s Guru

Authentic spiritual teachings are very vast subjects, and one may take several lifetimes to graduate in this field. I have been with Himalayan Yoga and Meditation tradition for 12 years but I have to admit that I know very little about the tradition. Nonetheless, I have always felt that for people to truly know Himalayan Yoga and Meditation tradition, they must understand Philosophy of Hatha Yoga as well as Mantra meditation, which is the corner stone of practice within the tradition. I had repeatedly tried without success to introduce these topics for the previous lectures we organized for Swami Veda in the past. My Kalayanamitras always successfully convinced me that these topics were not suitable for large audience. But finally, the opportunity presented itself in the most beautiful manner and right timing, way beyond the capacity of my own mind to imagine. Swami Veda loved the topics and approved the invitation to two of his closet disciples, Dr. Stephen Parker and Ashutosh Sharma, who can deliver the knowledge on these topics with finest quality.

The real purpose of practicing Hatha Yoga (including Asana) is to come to contact with one’s own body, breath, mind and emotion. Swami Veda repeatedly instructed his disciples and students to work with their emotions if they want to be good yoga teachers. Hatha Yoga provides excellent means for one to purify negative emotions, strengthen body, calm and stabilize the mind, which leads to conducive condition for meditation practice. The eventual goal of Hatha Yoga is to prepare oneself for enlightenment. Unfortunately, yoga has been westernized over years and the original teachings have been lost. Swami Veda feels the need to bring the original teachings back for the benefits of the people who are prepared to tread the serious spiritual paths.

As with any other sciences, one needs Guru to attain highest spiritual knowledge. This is because Gurus have been on the same path but are ahead of us so they know how to guide us along the way. In family, relationship between husband and wife is the key to fulfilling the true purpose of marriage. Without good relationship, the family institute fails and could not produce quality children. In any relationship, there are minute details that people in relationship need to be aware of each other.  But none demands as high level of awareness than sacred relationship between Gurus and disciples. The real task of true Gurus is to inspire people to seek their Gurus within. Guru is not a human personality (although he does assume form of human being for the sake of spiritual seekers). Guru is the same universal force, the same highest truth and state of wisdom, the Buddha nature or Christ consciousness that exists in every living being.

When two people decide to build a family together, the marriage results. The wedding is the symbol of the creation of new life. When Gurus take on disciples and disciples accept Gurus, the links are established via Mantra initiation in which Gurus impart personal mantra to disciples. Mantra is not simply an object of concentration in meditation practice (although this is one of the benefits from having a mantra) as widely understood by Buddhists who choose to follow only Vipassana path. Mantra is also a small drop Guru consciousness into the disciple’s mind field that creates positive vibratory energy deep in disciple’s subconscious mind. After a long period of nourishment through regular mantra meditation, the seed grows into a big tree, transforming personality of disciple from inside out.

Along the process of spiritual maturity, worldly desires (which are normally endless) deeply rooted in the minds of the disciples fall away gradually and naturally without the disciple being aware of it; the real wisdom (Panya) emerges in its own course from the deepest level of the disciple’s subconscious mind. Eventually, there are no more questions about life, no single desire (no matter how noble the desire is) left in the mind of disciple; and no more Samsara for him/her unless she or he chooses to come back for a specific purpose. This is the highest level of enlightenment.

Ashutosh and Dr. Stephen work as one mind. Spending 22 and 41 years with Swami Veda respectively, they have fully absorbed (not only know about) the teachings of Himalayan Masters in their daily lives. Because they talked from their experiences, the messages conveyed by them had solid substances and were convincing to people. After the retreat, we organized several small sessions for them (including sessions at Bangkok Yoga, AIIZ and at AHYMSIN Thailand center). After listening to their experiences, several people would like to learn more about Hatha Yoga as spiritual practice and as a tool to gain complete self knowledge (body breath and mind). There is a suggestion that Thailand center organize the Teacher Training Program here. Some are inspired to take Teacher Training Programs (TTP) at the Ashram in India, Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama. And some feel inclined to restart their yoga practices with entirely new perspectives.

Lastly, 21 Thais have requested for and received personal mantras from Himalayan Masters.

Selfless love from Kalayanamitras

Apart from teachers from Himalayan Yoga and Meditation, the event was enriched by contribution from three exceptional Thai teachers. Dr. Kampanart Buahombura took the participants through experiences of sound therapy and healing via vibration of Crystal Singing Bowls. Teacher Ekachai Staporntanapat (Lek) guided us through devotional singing, Kirtan, a natural way of expressing our own feelings to the Divine Consciousness in each of us. Finally, Teacher Rosukon San Juan (Kay) delighted us all with her Yoga for Kids and Families session. As Jesus said, “You cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless you become pure like little children”. Teacher Kay successfully led us all to our innate state of mind. In the three of them, we have seen selfless love and service, the virtue repeatedly emphasized by all enlightened beings, shining as bright as the twinkling stars.

End note

No matter how great the inspiration we felt during the event, the laws of uncertainty always play its role.If we do not practice and reflect on what we have learned, the seeds will falter and die. This is responsibility of each individual. It is our prayers that each of you is progressing in this sacred journey inside yourself in your own unique way. If you have any question on the teachings of Himalayan Yoga and Meditation tradition, would like us to guide you through basic practice (we have regular class on Saturday afternoon) or if you would like to get information on Teacher Training Program (TTP), please write to us at ahymsinthailand@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003401824297

By little student of Himalayan Yoga and Meditation.

(Swami Veda Bharati in Thailand, “Feel the love and wisdom of Himalayan Masters,” February 3-5, 2012, at Rose Garden Riverside, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.)