AHYMSIN

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Index of Practices

THE SPIRITUAL FESTIVAL — 2013

The Spiritual Festival

(June 13th – July 22th)

 

The 40-day Spiritual Festival is a time period when students in the Himalayan Yoga Tradition undertake special spiritual practices to refine their meditation and lifestyles in preparation for Guru Purnima (July 22nd ).

 

Along with Swami Rama and Swami Veda's audio and video recordings, books and booklets, these recent articles provide a helpful list of things one might undertake during this period to make positive lifestyle changes:

 

SADHANA IN APPLIED SPIRITUALITY

https://ahymsin.org/main/swami-veda-bharati/sadhana-in-applied-spirituality.html

 

SHIVA SANKALPA SUKTA
https://ahymsin.org/main/practice/practice-for-the-next-five-years-and-the-rest-of-your-life.html
https://ahymsin.org/main/swami-veda-bharati/shiva-sankalpa-sukta.html
https://ahymsin.org/main/swami-veda-bharati/shiva-sankalpa-sukta.html

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GUIDELINES & SUGGESTIONS FOR THE SPIRITUAL FESTIVAL


In reviewing the guidelines and making your own commitments, please keep in mind your own capacity. Success with a series of smaller goals will lead to greater purification and capacity for next year. Assess your own capacity and do not try to push to complete "on time." Accommodate for your family responsibilities.

 

Self-Examination

• Maintain mindfulness and an attitude of self-examination throughout the day. Observe your thoughts and emotions, asking yourself: “What mistakes did I make today?”
• “Where there was fearful or aggressive thoughts/words/actions ask, “What was it in me that evoked that response and reaction?” and replace such negativity with kindness and compassion.
• What right thing that should have been done have I omitted doing? (Refer to Swami Veda’s Yoga Sutra summary of I:33 on Chitta prasadhana.)
• For any thought critical of anyone, do 11 recitations of Gayatri.

Sadhana Practice
• Recite the Morning & Evening Prayers
• Do Nadi Shodhanam (channel purification) 3 times a day
• Do one to three malas (or more) of your personal mantra daily
• At juncture points in your day (or about every 2 hours), sit for 2 minutes, observing the flow of breath in the nostrils and repeating your personal mantra.
• Make your last formal thought at night the Gurur Brahma prayer and entry into meditative mode as you fall asleep. Your sleep will become a meditation.
• Awaken with a Yoga Nidra practice or simply breath awareness in bed before rising.

Meditation & Mantra Japa
• Resolve to enter into non-self-centered meditation
• Surrender samskaras & random thoughts to the inner Guru
Om Tat Sat Brahmarpanam Astu - dedicate prayers to the enlightenment and happiness of others.
• If you have been irregular with your meditations, become regular now.
• Increase your meditation time even by five minutes.
• Be punctual in getting to your meditation seat.
• Participate in the World-group Full Moon Meditations. See the dates for 2013 and beyond: https://ahymsin.org/main/practice/full-moon-meditation.html

Hatha Yoga
• Practice of hatha yoga to purify the body, breath and mind.
• Consider undertaking a practice of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) during these 40 days. (Please refer to Chapter Two in Swami Veda’s Philosophy of Hatha Yoga about asana as worship.)

Meals
• If possible do not eat alone. Take a small portion and give it to a companion or co-worker. If it is embarrassing and not socially acceptable, then surrender the first portion to the Great Prana of the Universe.
• Recite Grace.
• Eat 5 mouthfuls less than enough to fill the stomach at each meal.
• Try to not eat solid food after 9:00 p.m. A glass of liquid may be taken at night. Special health and medical situations are exempt. Total fasting is not suggested.
• Try to avoid eating meat or fish during the month although you may serve it to your family.

To further deepen your practice
• On Guru Purnima day you may decide to undertake further observances of self-purification for next year.
• Vow to give special love to your family and reach out to others, beyond your blocks and fears
• Keep a personal journal on ahimsa in your personal life, e.g. an unjustified sharp tone of speech, or in using objects obtained by violence and disregard for the rights of other living beings.
• Be patient, understanding and compassionate with difficult people in your life.
• Conquer anger, laziness and selfish thoughts.
• Consider taking a vow of one month's celibacy, but only with the happy consent of your spouse.
• Look for ways to reduce your possessions, acquisitions and energy consumption at least percent.
• Dedicate 10 percent of your month's income plus one dollar to a charity of your choice, in addition to your usual commitments.
• Experiment with a practice of silence or increased japa. See Swami Veda's writings on silence in Night Birds or in The Song of Silence for more details. This could be through observing your speech in daily life to see if you are using more words than necessary, speaking louder than necessary and if your tone and voice evokes a positive response in the listener. You could undertake to practice a half day of silence or a longer period.
• Undertake a weekly, biweekly or monthly practice of a half day of silence or a longer period.
• Take a personal retreat – at SRSG if possible!
• Ask guidance to undertake a purash-charana – an expanded japa practice with a Special Mantra. Please read Swami Veda's writings on SPECIAL MANTRAS: https://www.ahymsin.org/main/index.php/Swami-Veda-Bharati/special-mantra.html

 

During the Day
• Be mindful of your breath throughout the day.
• Keep your forehead relaxed at all times.
• Be mindful of keeping your spine straight.
• Use the tongue lock with japa and maybe the root lock. (Note if there is any difference in your meditation.)
• Get up and go to bed at regular times and get adequate sleep. (Note the effects this has the the way you feel during the next day.
• Resolve to get out into nature and walk with your mantra on a regular basis.

Read
• Swami Rama's Art of Joyful Living. Assess your progress on the paths shown in the book.
Weak Mind/Strong Mind: https://www.ahymsin.org/main/index.php/Swami-Veda-Bharati/mind-field.html
Marks of Spiritual Progress: https://www.ahymsin.org/main/index.php/Swami¬-Veda-Bharati/marks-of-spiritual-progress.html Make your own list of the “marks of progress.”
Create an ongoing spiritual journal, and enter the signs of your personal progress.
Questions for Self-Examination: https://www.ahymsin.org/main/index.php/Ityukta-2010/questions-fo-self-examination.html
Yoga Sutras: Chapter I, Verse 33. (Definition of Chitta Prasadhana) Also Chapter 17, Verses 14 to16.
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2, Verses 54 to 72. (Definition of Sthita-prajna)
Bhagavad Gita: Chapters 14, 17 and 18. (Definitions of the three gunas: sattva, rajas, tamas)
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 13, Verses 1 to 12 (Basic principles of Sankhya philosophy)

 

On Guru Purnima day you may decide to undertake further observances of self-purification for next year.

 

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SWAMI VEDA’S COUNSEL
ON THE
SPIRITUAL FESTIVAL
FROM
PREVIOUS YEARS

 

Dear Pilgrim in Yoga,

 

We are all here for a purpose; it is an on-going spiritual process. We are all here for spiritual liberation and serving that mission. For that purpose we are purifying ourselves of our pride and ego.

 

For these reasons we train ourselves in constant self-observation: to see oneself, to hear oneself to develop this internal dialogue. I have used one criterion for all my thoughts, my words, and my actions: “Is this conducive to spiritual liberation.”

 

You are still learning to walk on this path and have not yet fully learned to observe the effects of your attitudes and actions on others. For this reason, please allow me to offer you some of the ways I have used in my own life to guide my attitudes and responses. They have been my experiments in life and pass them on for you to experiment with.

For over twenty years we have celebrated a festival of spiritual purification. Its core is in the forty days of intense sadhana specific to a given year. But actually it is the theme for the whole year.

 

The theme for this year (2006) is:
Prayash-chitta and Chitta-prasadana:
through Self-Examination & Meditation

 

• Keep some time for silence and for introspection
• Carry a state of mindfulness & talk to yourself with internal dialogue. (See my writings on internal dialogue).
• I encourage you to again listen to the “Marks of Spiritual Progress,” the lectures given in Rishikesh 2002 and make your own chart or list of where you are in relation to this particular mark of spiritual progress, and if you do not fit there then ask, “What should I do to improve myself?”
• Use my points in applying prayash-chitta (self-examination, confession and atonement.)
• Study Swami Rama’s (1) Art of Joyful Living and (2) Conscious Living: A Guidebook for Spiritual Transformation, available from your own Center.

 

May you not encounter boulders, only little pebbles, on your pilgrim path.

 

You are still learning to walk on this path and have not yet fully learned to observe the effects of your attitudes and actions on others. For this reason, please allow me to offer you some of the ways I have used in my own life to guide my attitudes and responses. They have been my experiments in life and pass them on for you to experiment with.

 

1. Say the unpleasant in a pleasant way

2. Make excuses for the other party

3. Reduce negatives by one half before forming negative reactions

4. Reconcile the opposites

5. Learn to get along with those one was previously unable to trust

6. Make no decisions without wide consultation

7. Reflect and recognize one’s own needs, conflicts, insecurities, failings, without projecting them on others; and learning to resolve them through:

a. internal dialogue
b. internal confession
c. outward confession
d. apology

8. If there is suspicion that I might have been wrong or right presume to be wrong and acknowledge that to others, letting them make the choice, and then accepting their decision with out denying or justifying from your personal interests. Trust in their sense of forgiveness.

9. Willingness to surrender one-half of one’s ground, thereby finding that middle ground between one’s view and someone else’s view.

10. If you have a problem of conflict with someone, solve the problem s/he has with you.

11. Promote a spirit of prayash-chitta, the spirit of apology. It is a self-purification as confession, atonement and apology. It is related to the Pali word pratimoka, release, related to moksha.

12. Remember, you are not becoming angry because of “THIS incident or situation.” You were angry because of your past mental habit, and the habit has deepened to the point of wanting to release it and get it out. So now, knowing this, find other ways to ease the mind by such ways as:

a. learning to apologize for the other person
b. what might be the limitation in the capacity of the other person that I was not sensitive to and overlooked and chose not to make an adjustment in my expectations.
c. what pains has the other person suffered, not as judgment, but by way of compassion
d. figure out what excuses you can provide for that person’s behavior

13. Carry authority without carrying “authority.” Lead without seeming to be leading. Bring others along, including them, informing them, sharing with them. Ask for their ideas and opinions and thereby reaching a consensus – a collective decision. In letting people listen and accept you and your ideas, you will develop the art of bringing people along with you, and that is leadership.

14. We all have ability, and we all have the urge to serve, but when we feel the need to take on areas of responsibility that are not “ours,” ask yourself whether you first spoke with that person or persons, and how did you communicate that failing? Remember, you must first learn to hold back the urge to blame. Then it will be said pleasantly.

15. REMEMBER: Chitta-prasadana – Pleasant-Mindedness (YS I:33) – at all times.

16. Over the next 40 days see if you can make a 10% reduction in:

a) hostility,
b) fear,
c) anger toward others
d) your consumption of goods and energies

Practice this anger sublimation and humility, for it affects the entire mission. Take courage to face your angers reflected in that harsh tone, insulting comment or confronting body language that evoke a negative response in the other person.

17. Ask yourself what caused the person to react in that way. What are the pains of that person over the last 5 or 10 years that has caused such an accumulation of suffering that one reacts in such a manner when “triggered.”

18. Then as a kalyana mitra (noble friend), speak openly and listen back to oneself.

19. Remember: no instant reaction without full contemplation on the points given above.

 

If you love “me” then love my “family.” When you want to get angry, think of giving that anger to me first.

 

Be an “insider” for that is our work; that is what we are here for. Our internal work on the points above are the teaching, and that is the path we are on as pilgrims in yoga. This is the true festival of spiritual peace.


Swami Veda Bharati

 

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Dear Spiritual Seekers,

 

My job is to help people grow, and I will help them grow in whatever way I can.

 

Everyone should consider himself or herself in spiritual training. Spiritual training requires inner examination of oneself at all times. This is the spiritual part of daily life, and I would like people to do some self-examination on that issue. The second part is communication which has nothing to do with communication skills. It has to do with spiritual growth – contemplation and confession.

Spiritual training requires inner examination of oneself at all times. That’s why I gave the series of lectures, Marks of Spiritual Progress, and I’ve asked people to listen to those and develop those in the following ways:

 

1. Make charts and check: "Where I am in relation to this particular mark of spiritual progress?" “And if I don’t fit there, then what should I do to improve myself?” "Why is it that somebody is not listening to me?" "Why is it I am not getting somebody’s cooperation?" "Why is it that somebody is insulting to me?" "Why is it somebody is harsh to me?"

 

2. As a morning and evening sandhya prayer and contemplation, one would ask oneself two things: "What transgression did I commit?" and "What right thing, that I should have done, have I omitted?"

 

3. The morning and evening prayers and meditations should be times when we do self-examination – at night when we go to sleep and in the morning as part of a morning contemplation. “Who was it who was rude to me today?” “What in me evoked that rudeness?” Not “Who was rude to me?” That is only a cue. It is only a cue for you to get to the next point: “What was it in me that evoked that rudeness?” “Okay, let me cut that out.”

4. The angers that you have against each other here, these angers are those that you have brought with you. They are not about the persons with whom you are today angry because one year ago when you were not here, you were angry with someone else. Whatever your life’s experiences are that have made you angry or that have made you reserved or that have made you self-defensive or that have made you shy so that you cannot express yourself and then you burn inside – then you resent and then you blow up – that you have brought from outside, you are here for purification of that.

 

You are here for purification. Purification happens only by constant purging, self-examination. Acceptance that, “Yes, I have not quite, I have not been quite up to the ideal of self-surrender and love and forgiveness. Okay then, I need to do this to change myself.” Acceptance that, “Yes, there is a flaw in me. Yes, I am carrying that past anger, that I am carrying that past frustration, that I am carrying that past insecurity” or whatever it is, “and I need to find a way to come out of it and have the courage and the strength to expand my love and to bend down and to say, ‘Yes, I am sorry.’” Not ‘I’m sorry if I hurt you.’ That is not acceptable. ‘I am sorry I did hurt you.’ And sometimes it is necessary to assuage somebody’s hurt if you are sincere within you.

Prayas-chitta, mental purification. That is atonement in Christianity, making up for ones failures on a spiritual level.

 

Self-purification as confession and apology.

 

There are two kinds of cultures in the world: "apology cultures" and "non-apology cultures." I even found in some cultures, in some countries that if somebody apologizes, the other person thinks that now he is the winner. So nobody wants to apologize because apologizing makes him feel small. That is not the tradition in the East. Everybody apologizes. Until I see that, I will not think that you have purified.

The other part is confession. I am not seeing that here. I am not seeing the spirit of prayas-chitta. I am not seeing the spirit of apology. I am not seeing the spirit of pratimoka, confession, private or public. The Pali word for confession is pratimoka (“release”), related to moksha. Pratimoksha is a specific release. Unlike the Christian confession, Buddhist confession is public confession. In the monastery the monk stands up on a particular day, on the Upasada day and says – everybody confesses – to the sangha, to the community. And if the community, a particular sangha, has collectively transgressed they find another sangha to which they go to make a public confession.

 

That was the Gandhian way when the nation would not listen to him. He said, "I obviously am not pure enough that you would listen to me. I will fast, and I’ll purify myself."

 

I’m speaking very candidly, very frankly, because you are my children and my friends, and I know that you have love for me but you don’t have love for each other. I have composed a prayer. I’ll recite it, we’ll recite it. I’ll read it to you first in English, and then I’ll have you recite it in Sanskrit. You can do it in English. You can do it in Sanskrit.

 

Mother Gayatri! O Gurudeva!
Grant me purity of buddhi.
May my mind become immaculate, quiet, peaceful, clear and pleasant.
May all my emotions be purified.
Grant me the spiritual strength to ask for forgiveness with a sentiment of amity.
Aum! That alone is real.
May all this endeavor be accepted as my surrender and offering to Brahman.

 

Doing Gayatri japa means "God grant me the purification of buddhi."


Grant that my buddhi – Dhiyo yo nah prachodayāt – be impelled, inspired, awakened and enlightened
Because it is the buddhi dosha that is causing the problems.

 

1. Keep some time for silence, and for introspection.
2. Talk to yourself using internal dialogue.
3. Listen to my lectures Marks of Spiritual Progress
4. If advised to do so by a mantra initiator in our tradition, use the Gayatri japa during the 40 days.

Until you feel that the change has occurred after each mala of Gayatri, get yourself a book and write this prayer down three times; then go to the next mala so you know the purpose of that japa. "Grant me the spiritual strength to ask for forgiveness." Not spiritual strength to forgive – spiritual strength to ask for forgiveness. Understand that.

 

Everybody is innocent. Nobody intentionally does any harm to others, but they are helpless by the samskaras, by the imprints, by the angers, by the self-deficiencies, insecurities that they bring.

 

And this is not a psychiatrist’s office. What we are doing is not written in any book on conflict resolution, okay, because this is resolution of inner conflicts not interpersonal conflicts. It is the resolution of inner conflicts not of interpersonal conflicts.

 

Everybody please unscrupulously dig out and face your own transgressions, and after each mala of Gayatri ask for strength, spiritual strength to ask for forgiveness.

I’ll release you from that when I see that a real internal change has happened. This is the true festival of spiritual peace.

 

Love and Blessings in the service of the Guru,


Swami Veda Bharati

 

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SPIRITUAL FESTIVAL 2009
STABILIZING THE SPIRITUAL MINDFIELD

 

Here is a short list of endeavours which may take a considerable amount of time, it would seem. But actually, these are simple services one can perform easily with a little dedication, a little feeling of giving importance to them.

You do so much for yourself — now increase what you do for others. This is your action plan, a business plan for living a full life.

 

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ONE

 

Let your selfless service increase, whether by one percent or five percent or whatever. Increase the time and energy you spend in SELFLESS service of others. That is the first concrete action you can begin with.

 

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TWO

 

Refine your personal practices and include:

a) Concentrating more on exhalations. This will help you achieve 2:1 ratio of breathing without physical effort. Send to SVB brief feedback on having achieved this feat through just this concentration and how long it took.

b) Repeat the homework that was given for the period July 2005 to February 2007, that is, (1) Symptoms of weak and strong mind and how to develop a strong mind, and (2) “Marks of Spiritual Progress” homework, until perfected.

c) Keep your regular meditation time. In addition to that, you may sit at other times in the day.


Do not forget to take 2 minutes, 3 minute breaks, for breath-awareness many, many times in the day.

 

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THREE

 

Prepare a study and practice plan for yourself. This month I will read this, next month I will read that, the following month, I will read that. Plan for the last breath of your life, what will be the state of your mind at that moment, and thereby what you wish to be in your next life, what kind of life would you like to have next time. Plan for that elevation of yourself and thus, preparing a study plan and spiritual plans.

 

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FOUR

 

Popularize the full moon meditations so that many more people can benefit from them. Let them know of the benefit and availability.

 

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FIVE

 

Plan for a silence retreat of 3 days, 7 days, 10 days. If you are courageous, 40 days, and if you are really, really more courageous, 90 days. Come to SRSG to refresh your heart, mind, and soul. Build it into your year’s plan.

 

Do small retreats in your regions. We have established a system of regional AHYMSINs. You do not have to have lectures all the time. Five, six, seven or any number of you can join together and go to some place of silence; you can even do it in a home if you have room for five or seven to lie down in your basement. Set a day’s program modelled on the ashram: hatha at such time; breakfast at such time; a period of silence and meditation; and listening to the practices on mp3 or CDs.

 

Plan from now when you will come next for a teachers’ training retreat.

 

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SIX

 

If you are a teacher, prepare your students to become linked to the Guru lineage by way of initiation.

 

Prepare your students—when they take a hatha class, what is the next step?

o Give them the book Philosophy of Hatha Yoga;
o Give them our booklets on meditation and mantra.
o Have a study plan for them.

 

The number of traveling teachers is going to increase now. Do facilitate their coming to your area.

 

You can also help many people spiritually, and this ashram in extending its teaching as well as financially, by forming groups to come to the ashram on a regular basis.


Swami Veda Bharati

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