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Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…

Sometimes students have written to or asked Swami Veda Bharati, Swami Ritavan Bharati, and other senior teachers in our tradition questions about practice.  This is one such “Question and Answer,” or Q&A.


Does a long challenging and purifying the mind not subtly take you to an ego of the mind? Because you are still in the gross body/mind and extremely far from Brahman...nothingness. How much time and how many lives do we go through “neti, neti”?


Stephen Parker (Stoma), Lalita Arya (Ammaji) and Michael Smith have answered this question.

From Stephen Parker (Stoma):

In a word, no. If you live a mindful life, depending on the density of your karmic accumulation, you can substantially cleanse the mindfield in one lifetime. If you observe your life from buddhi, which is causally beyond ahamkara, this breaks the self-identification with samskaras and keeps the ego in its minimal role. The problem with ego is that it gets the idea that it is the Self. That needs to be corrected from time to time. But without an ego one cannot have a body and without a human body one cannot purify samskaras. So until the mindfield is cleansed enough to dissolve, one needs an ego in order to progress.

From Lalita Arya (Ammaji):

Great precise reply by Stoma.

Sometimes I feel sympathy for the impatience of seekers, but that is understandable when such questions are asked as they are done is in all innocence.

Treading the path requires a lot of cleansing which purifies body, mind, samskaras, ahamkara, etc, etc. Once that cleansing REALLY starts, all such questions answer themselves as we proceed on the path. It takes lifetimes upon lifetimes to get anywhere close to understanding anything. It is great to have someone be able to explain, but to comprehend on one's own is the revelation that leads further. Meditation does not follow logic.

We people of the modern world do not really know the meaning of patience...once I asked my Guru a really dumb question - "Baba", I queried, "I am bored with my present mantra that I been meditating on for over 20 years. Can I have another one?"  He laughed, looked at me and said, "Beta (Child), no, carry on with this until your last breath...."
He has also reiterated in almost every lecture - "Do not believe what I say, go home and practice on your own."

So the more we keep to our practice sincerely, daily, patiently with discipline the greater the chances that answers reveal themselves when you least expect.

From Michael Smith:

Swami Rama talked about “polishing the ego,” but personally, I agree with you – a polished ego is still the ego. I have heard many things about how long it takes until the final liberation – from “it takes millions of lifetimes” to “it can happen in a single lifetime.” I think it depends on the readiness (adhikara) of the student. Personally I like Yoga-sutra I.14 and what Sri Nisargadatta wrote:

Sutra I.14
Sa tu dirgha-kala-nairantarya-satkarasevito drdha-bhumih:

That practice, however, becomes firm of ground
only when pursued and maintained
in assiduous and complete observance
for a long time, without interruption
and with a positive and devout attitude.

"You are never without a Guru for He is timelessly present in your Heart.
Sometimes he externalizes Himself and comes to you as an uplifting
and reforming factor in your life:
a mother or father, a wife or husband, a child or teacher;
or he remains as an inner urge towards righteousness and perfection.
All you have to do is obey Him and do what He tells you.
What He wants you to do is simple:
learn self-awareness, self-control and self-surrender.
Though it may seem arduous, it is easy if you are earnest.
And it is quite impossible if you are not.
Earnestness is both necessary and sufficient.
Everything yields to earnestness."

     — Sri Nisargadatta

Editor’s Note:

If you have a question about spiritual practice, you can use the "Contact the Spiritual Committee" link on the Ahymsin website to ask it.

Previous columns can be read at “Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…



The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation

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Breath Awareness     Qualified Preceptor
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