It was a bright, sunny, but a solemn day on September 11th of this year in Chicago. Communities across the United States were commemorating the anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks of one year ago, in their own unique ways. Swami Veda Bharati’s talk in Chicago this year held a special meaning to those who attended. Both the students of Himalayan Tradition as well as others came that evening to hear Swami Veda Bharati’s message and his guidance. People came to receive not only Swamiji’s wisdom and guidance for personal growth, but they also came with questions about the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Questions such as “What can we learn from nine-eleven?” “What can we do to avoid such a tragedy in future?” and “What must we do to promote world peace?”
In his masterfully lucid and loving manner, Swamiji gave the essence, the central messages of his years of lecturing to students on path of spiritual growth world wide. Here, now, is what he said:
Good evening all. It is such a great pleasure always, to come by and meet all the old friends. You all are, most of you, veterans of meditation teaching. You have been blessed by the Master. You don’t really need some swami travelling from Rishikesh taking your time. All there is is all contained in this vessel of life. It is a very full vessel.
Some people write me: “Swamiji I am feeling empty,” and that puzzles me – because the fullness, that is your own, can never be made empty. It is like the ocean complaining to be empty. It is like the sun saying, “I have forgotten where I put my light.” It is like the flame of a lamp saying, “Turn on a light so I can see myself.”
And by what other light will the flame of a lamp see itself? By what other light will the sun be lit? By what pieces of ice will the moon be cooled? It is nothing outside you that can fill you.
For your fullness you are looking at things outside, and that is why you forget your own light, your own coolness, your own calmness. A churning whirlpool you have chosen to make your mind. “Chosen” – there is nothing helpless about it; you’ve chosen to make your mind a churning whirlpool. It is entirely your choice.
Yet, ask anyone who understands the physics of a whirlpool; he will tell you that in the center of the whirlpool there is one point which is absolutely still, a calm eye of a storm.
We have been given the capacity to make the mind a whirlpool, the capacity to turn the mind into a hurled-about-hurricane, so by contrast we may experience the center, the absolute calm. That center can not be disturbed. A disc may be whirling at the rate of a million cycles a second. The physicist who understands the principles of motion tells you: at the center of that incredibly fast whirling disc, there is an infinitesimal point absolutely still, around which the whirling takes place.
Get into that. Take your ship right through the storm and get right into the eye. Don’t hang around on the edges of the storm. That is where you will be hurled about and whirled about. Go right through it to find the calm eye. That entry, the process of that entry, for a beginner is defined as meditation. For the more advanced, they don’t need the contrast to realize the still point. You and I need the contrast.
I now invite people to spend ten days of silence. Not silence of speech, silence of the mind.
Without silence of the mind, silence of speech is a torture to be reported to the commission for human rights. On the other hand, when you have the silence of the mind, speaking is a torture, equally to be reported. For me now, speaking has become a torture. I invite you all to enter this very natural world of silence within.
You know, the greatest, fastest growth of human personality takes place when you are silent. In nine months, a tiny little blob, stuck to the walls of mother’s womb, in nine months of being there absolutely silent, it becomes a fully shaped human being. And as we discover speech, the growth becomes slower and slower.
The most profound experiences of human existence are silent ones. The baby looks at you, and there is love, and there is joy in its eyes. Later in life, you keep trying to find some way of expressing that love that joy. You can train your eyes to express love, but it doesn’t work out, not quite the way the baby disarms you by its very looks, by the very looks of its eyes. Do you know why? Because it does not yet know that the words exists, because it does not yet know that the word love is spelled l-o-v-e.
The pre-verbal love is the most profound. And then you have to take meditation classes so you can go through the processes of speech, learn to calm the grosser part of speech, and the middling part of speech, and the interior part of the speech, and you can go into silence, and forget the word “love,” so you can once again love like the pre-verbal infant.
You know the Sanskrit word for silence is maun. The act, the habit, the nature, the inclination of a muni, a contemplative one, a sage, a wise one, is not writing volumes of philosophy; it is mauna, silence. The word muni is derived from Sanskrit verb root mana.
The very old lecture of mine, you have heard at least a hundred times, since 1971-72. I always write about it and always remind people about this verb root man (“to think, to contemplate, to meditate”). It is the verb root from which the English word “man” is derived. It’s exactly the same spelling. I am not making it up. It’s in the history of the Indo-European language family. It is the same verb root from which the Greek menos (“mind”), the Latin mens (“mind”), mens and sana and corpora-sano. The English word “mind” and “mental” are all derived from the same Sanskrit verb root man, from which also is derived the word “mantra.” And where do they all join together? In the word for silence. Not a chatter box.
The Greek, English and Latin words for “mind” and “mental processes” and the word “mantra” that we use for interior calming, and the word “man” are all related to the word muni, the highest man, the contemplative one.
And what is the designation, what is the definition, what is the test of someone having become a contemplative one? Is not that he becomes a chatter box like me; he enters a state of mauna, silence. Only a silent mind is a beautiful mind. Only a contemplative one is fully a man.
Now, Gurudev, Swami Rama of the Himalayas, who still speaks to us in our minds, used to say repeatedly, “You are an unfinished product. Human beings are an unfinished product.” What you call a human being, sitting here, is not yet a finished man. This is the raw material for becoming a human being.
All of us are raw material for shaping a human being. We are not yet fully human. We have not reached the fullest in our development, in our evolution as human. Some accept the theory of evolution, some don’t, some argue back and forth. I am not concerned with that – whether there is a theory of evolution or not.
So far as the evolution of human beings is concerned – while the evolution of other species and other beings is both exterior and interior, the development of a shape and development of the level of consciousness – the evolution of the human being, once the shape has been given, is purely interior. When you become a human, your mind now begins to evolve. Evolves to what? To making spaceships? The other day I was reading an article in the newspaper that the planet Mars is to be the next Wild West, the next territory to be conquered. So we’ll make human habitation on Mars. Will everybody be in peace? Will there be no violence?
In the last century or two, steel has made great progress, ceramics have made great progress, plastics have made great progress, engines have made great progress. Weapons? Oh! Nothing to match their progress! Push of a single button, you can kill ten million people. Oh, great progress! The switches have made great progress, no question. By the touch of human being, by the distortion or application of human consciousness, all these objects have made great progress. Ships have made progress, no question. Bridges have made progress. There is no question about it, no challenge.
Have human beings made great progress? Are you less angry today than you were five-thousand years ago? Are you less greedy? The coming historians will write of the nineteenth, twentieth, and the twenty-first centuries not as the most progressive centuries, but as the most destructive centuries in the history.
That is not progress. We have destroyed more in the last two and a half centuries than was destroyed in twenty five centuries before – and we continue to destroy. There are flowers we have seen that your great grandchildren will never see again. There are species of butterflies that you have seen, that your great grand children will never imagine that they existed. Commemorate one of the most destructive events that occurred on the soil of the United States.
What’s the answer? What is your answer to that? Counter violence?
A mind that has become meditatively calmed, becomes incapable of violent thoughts, becomes incapable of anger, it becomes incapable of vengeful inclination. And in the presence of such a mind, such a field is generated that whoever comes within that field becomes calm. The vengeful person ceases to be vengeful, and the angry person begins to smile. That is the test of whether you are making progress in meditation or not.
It is not how many hours you sit turning your mala beads or your rosaries. But whether in your presence, minds of others calm down or not. Whether someone who came to you with an aggressive intent went away forgetting that aggression. If you are reaching that point, then you as a human being are making progress.
Why does that happen in the presence of a meditatively calmed mind? Because a quality of forgiveness arises.
The Sanskrit word for forgiveness is kshama. Many people do not know its verb-root meaning. The word actually means capacity. You throw a stone in a small bowl. It makes a big noise, generates waves. Throw the same size stone in the ocean, nothing happens to the ocean. Because the ocean has the capacity.
As you go into the states of meditation, the energies that you are frittering normally, that are oozing and leaking outwards from you all the times, are increased.
I am moving my hands, the mind energies are leaking. I am speaking. The mind-energy is leaking, gushing out. It is not held back. It is not used for generating more.
When you learn to gather yourself to your self, your senses to your senses, look at the source of your thoughts, and you do not convert that thought to the kinetic energy of words and sounds, rather you return that thought to its source, its origin and generate the mind energy and hold it in you, your capacity increases. Then the shallow words spoken by others, stare-stones, and word-rocks thrown at you, touch you the way a stone, a rock or a lump of clay touches the surface of a deep ocean. For the ocean it’s no effort to forgive. It’s not even a test of its capacity.
I used to wonder at my master when he was building the hospital. Imagine what capacity! From the day of laying the foundation stone to the day of his departing from the body, in four years, creating a medical city in a country like India where nothing happens in less than a century, if it happens at all. The trouble people gave, every politician saying, “Oh swami from America got plenty of money. Swamiji, I am fighting the election. It is nothing for you; would you help me with twenty million?” Swami Rama replied, “I haven’t come here to distribute money to the politicians; I have come here to help the poor.” Politicians would go out and become rabble rousers, and cause problems with the villagers.
I said to him, “Swamiji, people are giving you so much trouble.”
“Huh?” He says, “Huh.” Nothing happens to me. Half of it I am generating.” Repeatedly he said, “Half of it I am generating, so that all the negativity will come out now while I am here. Later on everything will run smoothly.”
That capacity! So the first benefit of meditation is it increases your capacity to take on more. Take on more of what? Taking on the world’s negativities and neutralizing them. When human beings have learned that art, then we can say that human beings are slowly becoming a finished product.
Everybody wants advanced techniques. This is the advanced technique! But nobody wants this advanced technique. They want to know of the advanced pranayamas. How many pranayamas can you learn in one life time? How many can you practice? After Swami Rama wrote his book, Path of Fire and Light, Volume One, he asked me on phone, “Did you read it?” I said, “Yes Swamiji, I read it, but when will I ever practice all of these?” Swami Rama replied, “Read it in this life and practice in the next!” He said, “I have given you a short cut, follow it.”
He did give me short cuts. I was so blessed, you don’t know. Other people, when they find their guru, they start all their tapasya, all their asceticism, and all their rules of life. I used to sleep on the floor until I found my guru, and I used to fast in all different ways – fifteen days fasting on only vegetables, and fifteen days fasting only on fruit, and fifteen days fasting only on milk, and fifteen days fasting just on water with a spoon full of honey and a little lemon juice – and try all types of things. And he came in my life and said, “Why do you do all those things, I have done them all.” I said to myself, “You have done it, but I haven’t done it.”
So when my guru came in my life, I started sleeping on the bed, I stopped fasting. We got it easy. “We have a tradition in our lineage,” Swami Rama said. “One generation of disciples gets it very hard way; the next generation gets it the easy way. The next generation gets it the hard way, the next one gets it the easy way. You’re lucky to be in the generation that gets it the easy way. But, you see,” he says, “the next you will give to, you will be very hard. Oh. You will give them very hard times, before you teach and give them.” So it goes down.
I was driving Swami Rama in Minneapolis in 1972, and I said, “You’ve got your disciples that you love up there in the mountains in the caves and sitting there and doing their sadhana and all the practices, and I am sitting here, driving around in the cities of United States. I am not getting a chance to do any of those things.” “You know,” he said, sitting next to the driver seat? He said, “Why do you need to do them? I have done them all. I’ve already given you the benefit of ten million Gayatris.” That was in 1972. “Haven’t you felt it?” I said “Yes, I have.”
I try to tell people there are short cuts. There are short cuts for calming the mind. But the short cuts don’t work unless you work on your choices of emotions – and that, no one is working on. If I say one insulting word to you now, you’ll flare up. Forget everything that has been said, forget all your meditation, everything. You walk out of here, drive your car and somebody yells you in his road rage, and you yell back.
Let me see how much you remember of the lecture. When someone yells at you on the road, do you smile back disarmingly, lovingly? Then, you have made progress. Then, short cuts will work, because you have smiled back disarmingly. I’m using the word “disarmingly.” I give lectures on “Disarmament of the Mind” quite often.
If you yelled back, you think you have let off your steam. But his rage and your yell will keep on echoing in your mind, and you will create more words and counter words, and you will sit down to meditate in the night and wonder: Mantra. “Why are people so angry? Ah ha! I am glad I told him off!” Mantra. Mantra.
What’s the point? Why take it all in? Why carry that stuff? Why stuff your mind with that poison? Drop it there.
If I was walking down the street, and you were on a shopping trip, and I handed you a vial of poison, will you take it? But every day you take it. Every day, you are taking it, when you are sitting there, meditating, hoping to find an antidote to that poison. Why take the poison? Increase the capacity of the mind, and you can ingest the poison, and nothing happens to you.
Then short cuts to meditation will work. Then you don’t need all these techniques, these long pranayamas.
Do you know nadi shodhanam, alternate nostril breathing? There are ninety-six basic different types of nadi shodhanam, types that I can teach you. Then there are branches of those ninety-six. If you learned all of those ninety-six, it’s not going to benefit you if you have not worked on your evolution, increased the capacity of the mind, found your fullness through those little short cuts, through silence, through calmness.
The answer to 9/11, if there is an answer, is individually, nationally, internationally, stopping economic violence, religious violence, political violence, starting from the individual minds. For humanity, there is no other recourse. The destruction that has been wrought on this planet in the last century or two is unprecedented. If you don’t change the direction drastically, the next century or two will be doubly disturbed. Stop it here, from here! From this place.
What I am speaking is not to make it an interesting lecture. This is what you have to do. Not “work on” – do it.
There was a gentleman in Dallas, twenty-five or more years back, and Swami Rama asked him, “Would you do this for me?” The man said, “I’ll try.” Swamiji got this look, trembled, “What? What do you mean try? Do it!” Don’t try. Don’t work on it. Don’t struggle. Don’t fight with yourself. It is a vial of poison. Leave it. Don’t struggle: “Shall I keep it? Shall I leave it? Where should I put it? Where shall I leave it?” Either you will do it, or you don’t want to do it. Either you will do it now, or you will not do it. From this moment a change in your mind patterns. Examine the seeds of violence in your mind. National, international, economic, political, individual.
The answer to September 11th is to reduce your personal wants by ten percent, and all the world’s shortages will be taken care of. Can’t you manage with ten percent less electricity in the house? Can’t we manage with a TV screen that is ten percent smaller? Can’t we manage with ten percent less clothing? Ten percent? Do we have to run the faucet full? Can’t we run it just ten percent less? In every area, you are responsible for economic violence. Examine. Stop it now. Otherwise, your great grandchildren will pay the price. It can be changed. There is nothing like destiny.
People say, “Swamiji, what is going to be happening in a century or two?” There is nothing like destiny; it’s your choice. The direction you give to your mind is what will happen.
You know, everybody worries about my health and physical condition, and some people with some really great concern and love for this being have shown my birth chart to six different top astrologers in India. Each one of them – I am not saying whether astrology is right or wrong, okay. Each one of them independently looked at it, and surprised, said, “This man has died ten or fifteen years ago!” Yet, I am here creating mischief as usual. There is nothing like destiny. In Rishikesh in February, I am giving a seminar: “Spirituality for Longevity,” and I will tell you my secrets, as much as I can.
So also with history, so also with future events. Start here at this moment. Make the choices for your interior mental life, your interior mental life-style. The kind of thoughts you think, the kind of reactions you cultivate when you read a newspaper item, the kind of emotion you choose in response to news on the TV, the kind of emotion you choose. That ability to choose comes to you when you learn to go to the depth of silence through meditation – because you learn that the mind can be directed.
Sit down for six minutes or sixty minutes and tell the mind: “Mind, for the next six minutes, or the next sixty minutes, think only this thought, only this mantra, only this breath.” Train your mind, and use that training for choosing your emotions, your reactions. Then from that make choices in your external life style. Don’t suffer the reduction of ten percent less electricity. Feel a fulfillment of achievement – “Ahh! I did it!”
One of the things I have been teaching in my silence retreats is on the art of falling asleep and the art of waking up. Don’t go from wakefulness into sleep with a transition through fantasies and revelries. From wakefulness, go into the calmness of the mind, into a state of meditation, and through that make a transition into sleep. When you wake up, enter the calmness of meditative state, and through that transition you emerge into wakeful state. You will be surprised at the change it makes on the general fabric of your daily life.
Secondly, master the pause between the breaths. Swami Rama taught this repeatedly, and almost up to his last minute he kept on saying: “Nobody is doing what I am telling them to do. Nobody is doing what I am telling them to do.” Master the pause between the breaths – no pause between the breaths. When you come to end of a breath, immediately, immediately transit into the awareness of the next breath.
The purpose is not breath awareness. Mind has a habit that it takes the shape and form of whatever is presented to it. If you sit by an even-flowing stream, your mind calms down and you don’t want to leave. But you can’t sit by an even-flowing stream all the time. So there is an even-flowing stream called the breath that is always with you. You tell the mind: “Look at this even-flowing stream,” so then the mind does the same thing – becomes an even-flowing stream.
The purpose of breath awareness is to trick the mind and make it an even-flowing stream – without a break, without a pause.
Third, pay more attention to the exhalation. Inhalation is a correlate of the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Exhalation is a correlate of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is calming, braking and relaxing. The actual meditation for a beginner occurs during exhalation. So pay more attention to the exhalation.
Let’s try these three very subtle things. Subtlety is the advancement, not learning another method of doing nadi shodhanam.