A video of this lecture can be watched at https://vimeo.com/133511647
Michael Smith has transcribed this lecture.
I have taken, announced a vow of five years of silence on Shivaratri, 2013 when I got very ill – and I still am – with hospitalization, doctors, nurses. I have to break my vow – but I am starting again from the 10th, 11th of April and hoping that I will not have any interruptions. But I’ll still keep teaching. There are other ways to teach.
Attending a course is one thing; assimilating the teaching is something else. That takes many lifetimes. Do it. What is the secret of success? There are three secrets. The first secret is . . . practice. The second secret is . . . practice. The third secret is . . . practice.
Don’t make it just a holiday: “I went there. Yes, it was good. The ashram is very nice. The swami isn’t too bad.” And then go back and forget all the relaxations. No, absorb it until you go back, listen to the recordings, and do it again, and do it again, until such time that you don’t need any recordings and you remember the processes without somebody on the recording reminding you.
Then the second step comes: the kriya, the practice, the part, the segment of the practice that used to take you one hour, as you advance . . . . Remember this formula: As you absorb, as you assimilate, please understand that mind is not some one lumpy thing
Mind is more vast that a whole ocean, and all of that ocean is in the skull. There are two trillion neurons. If they were put on a string, the string would go beyond the moon. It’s all wrapped up here. [Swami Veda points to his head.] And the brain is not mind. The brain is an instrument of a small part of the mind. And there is more mind beyond the brain than there is acting through the brain. And a deep meditator goes to that mind.
So the mind has many energy layers, like the thermoclines in the ocean. Do you know “thermoclines”? Anybody here is a diver?
[A man raises his hand says, “Scuba.”]
You are a scuba diver?
Oh! I’m a scuba diver, and I’ve done that for decades, except that I got ill. I have dived in many, many, many oceans.
[“We are going to Galapagos next year.”]
It was just two year ago… [Swami Veda turns to Tejas] Was it just two years ago that I was there?
But I was not diving at that time because I was not well. But I gave a series of lectures there at a retreat in Galapagos. Wonderful! Wonderful! Okay! Tell me about it when you come back. You are going through _?_ ? What is the route you are taking now.
[“We are going through Columbia and driving all the way down.”]
This man has taken his motorbike and started his motorbiking from the state of Arunachal, way northeast at the Tibetan border, and done his motorbiking to come here. I like that kind of a man! Motorbike through the mountains and go scuba diving in the Galapagos. And then . . . put that energy and that creativity with that energy, at some point, in scaling your spiritual life. At some time, just absorb it and then ascend. Okay?
So when you are diving, the diving teachers can tell you that there what are called thermoclines – the ocean has many layers. And at each layer, suddenly, half of your body is in warm water and half of your body is in cold water – and it changes, and then further and further and further. You have to watch out.
The mind has many, many layers. At present you are working with the thickest, slowest level of the mind’s turbulent surface of the ocean. So those who have seen only the ocean’s turbulent surface, they only think of this noisy, _?_ high waves place. But when you dive underneath, ten feet below, where is the storm? There? You only hear the sound of your breathing. That’s why I love diving. [_?_ in Hindi] So, learn to dive in the mind and go to the next level where the energy is a little more frequent-vibrating, the frequencies subtler, and your mantra becomes faster. Then you go subtler, to the next level, and the mantra becomes faster yet. And the same mala that used to take you fifteen minutes comes down to five minutes, or two minutes.
Does anyone have a watch with a second hand? Anybody here? Okay, listen, listen. I’ll do this sign [raising an index finger] and I’ll start and then I’ll do the same sign again. And you can count the seconds. Okay? [Swami Veda closes his eyes and begins to breathe. How many seconds? [Thirty seconds] I did Gayatri mantra fifteen times, because I don’t stay on that turbulent surface. I go to the place where the mind is more high frequency. But trying to go fast, nothing will work; you’ll only get all tensed up. You can learn it. You can do it if you have sankalpa [resolve], but it’s not a simple formula. So anyway.
Do you know what I used to do? Now I don’t teach personally. I haven’t taught a group for many years now, but I used to put people to sit in meditation and quietly say to somebody to go out the door, come back, and SLAM the door. [laughing] Everybody …everybody jumps! That’s not meditation.
[Question: “Swamiji, you said you did fifteen Gayatris. These people think you mean fifteen repetitions of Gayatri. I think you mean fifteen malas of Gayatri? No?”]
That’s fantastic. That’s too many. [Laughter]
Okay, so don’t just go back, hearing this and [saying], “Yes, very interesting. Well, I’m no swami. I can never make it.” Why can’t you make it? So many people have made it. Why can’t you make it? You can make it, too. I was a householder. I raised four kids in America, and I kept on doing this work. [People say,] “Oh, we are _?__, we are householders. We are busy.” I don’t take it. I don’t count [that statement]. I have done half my sadhana sitting at American airports. What do you do sitting at the airport? Look? You have seen that scene God knows how many times. Then it’s late. Okay. Oh, great, I have more time to meditate and be silent. You have so much time. You’re sitting in the car, somebody else is driving – what are you doing? You have time. You are falling asleep [making little circular movements upward] and you are in Los Angeles and you are in Beijing, and you are fighting with your neighbor and... You fall asleep and then you have all kinds of bad dreams. Why do you do that? Use that time. I use that time. Ask these people who watch me. Plenty of time. So learn to use the time if you have sankalpa because it’s all. Tan me manaḥ, śiva saṅkalpam astu.(1) __?__, __?__. Nobody does a few sankalpa?
[Answering a written question] Remember the definition of a teacher: Someone walks into your presence and says, “I felt loved.” Then you are a teacher. Someone walks into your presence disturbed and goes away at peace and smiling; then you are a yoga teacher.
[Answering a written question] What is the secret of success in asana?
[Answer from the audience: “Lightness and stillness?”]
Relaxation, breath rhythm, and coalescence with the infinite. Pra-yatna-shaithilyānanta-sam-ā-pattibhyām. Breath rhythm, relaxation, and coalescence with the awareness of the infinite.(2) The three secrets of success in yoga. If you have these three, asana will come to you easily.
People in the West have very stiff necks, very stiff wrists, and very stiff ankles. They can’t loosen their hands. And they are trying to force the asana. That’s not the way.
I’m talking to you for how long? I am very ill. I have six heart arteries 100% blocked – for the last five years during which I have traveled around the world and lectured and talked many times. I am sitting here with many other challenges in the body, but I have continued talking. And if you lift my hand while I’m talking and surprise me – don’t give me a warning – lift it and drop it, okay? – I’ll continue talking to you, and my body will remain relaxed with no tension in it. If you put a – Dr. Prabhu is not here – but if you put a myograph on my forehead, you will not find tension.
I’m eighty-two. Do you see wrinkles on my forehead? Any? Any wrinkles on my forehead? How come you have wrinkles? [Laughter] Why? [Swamiji whispers.] Stay beautiful. Stay beautiful. Okay. Stay beautiful. A secret Himalayan herbal lotion you put on your mind. [Laughter].
Does anybody want to ask anything?
[Question: “You were talking about deeper levels of the mind. You said that it was very easy to get deeper. Do you have a trick, an easy way to get deeper into the mind?”]
She asked me: “You have talked of diving through the layers of the mind. Is there an easy way to get there?” Do it beautifully. Don’t make it an effort. The sutra says,“Pra-yatna-shaithilyānanta . . .” – relaxing the effort. Relaxing the effort – and that relaxing, that loosens . . . . You see, mind is not just sitting in your skull. The mind and prana are through your whole body. And Swami Rama says, “All of the body is in the mind, but not all of the mind is in the body.” Now when you tense your emotions, when you tense you emotions, then you tense your body. That’s why I talk so much here about emotional purification, bhāva-saṁśuddhi.
I have them memorize one verse of the Gita. I don’t know how many of these people can recite it:
bhāva-saṁśuddhir ity etat
mānasam tapa ucyate (Verse 17.16) (3)
Making the mind a pleasant place:
manaḥ-prasādaḥ saumyatvam: having a character like the moon – that somebody looks at you and feels something of the light, cool light emanating from the moon;
saumyatvaṁ maunam: silence;
ātma-vinigrahaḥ: holding oneself in restraint;
bhāva-saṁśuddhir: purification of emotions;
that is called manasa tapas, mental tapasya, mental austerity, mental asceticism.
So make the mind a pleasant place. If there is tension in your body, the block will put your energies through that tension, that stress, and it blocks your mind. And with that block you’re trying to do: “Oh quick! I’ve got to do..I promised that I had to do 125,000 in so many days.(4) Am I getting it done?”
Come on! Relax. The more you relax, the deeper you will go. That is why we have all of these processes of yoga nidra and so on.
I don’t do any of these processes.
[Silence as Swami Veda goes into yoga nidra.]
I take two seconds of yoga nidra sleep. I am rested. Ask her [Tejaswini]. She takes my dictation. I don’t have the energy in my heart muscle to do it.
[Speaking to Tejaswini] Describe what we do.
[Tejaswini: “He does yoga nidra in a very, very, very complete way(?).” (not sure about Tejas’ last words)].
My Master [Swami Rama] dictated all his books lying down, like this. [Swamiji puts his elbow on the arm of his chair and puts head on his elbow, as if sleeping.] And somebody would be taking his dictation, and he would just keep on talking like this: “And when we were in the mountains, we lived on fruits and nuts.” Hours and hours he would stay in that state and he would dictate. When at present you are not finding your answers. God is whispering to you, but you have ten thousand TVs on at full blast and say, “I can’t hear God.” Turn them off. Then you will hear.
That is why we emphasize silence here so much. People come here for three days of silence, ten days of silence, forty days. Who is doing forty days now? Two or three people are doing that right now. Ninety days. We have a group of ten people doing ninety days from December.
But then we teach how to do the silence. Not keep the internal TV on. What to do during silence, or rather what to un-do during silence.
[Question: “Swami Ved, thank you very much for this lovely course we have had. But I wish to give you are little feedback as a student. When we learn from teachers like Stoma who have perfected this, we automatically get into that deep state. And we do the same things on ourselves _?_ benefit, so there is an element of grace that comes through this experience and that is what we get.]
[Question paraphrased by Tejaswini: “She comes for the course and learns through teachers like Stomaji. They experience the silence, but when they go home, it’s a different thing, and she attributes this to grace here.”]
What kind of grace? What is grace? What is the definition of grace? What is love? What is the definition of love? You and you and you [Swami Veda gestures to people in the audience.] and you, and I, we are waves in the ocean of universal consciousness. Now, can you take a piece of chalk and put a boundary line between one wave and another? That is what you are trying to do. That is what people are doing: “I am here, and you are over there.” The line is drawn. It doesn’t work. And when two waves remove that line, boundary line, then where does one wave end and where does the other wave begin? That is called love. And when the wave of the Guru mind puts the energy into your mind, that is called grace. And you can invite it anywhere, anytime, if you know to remove the blocks that you have put in your way for that wave to touch you. You have to remove the blocks. But you are keeping the blocks: Your angry habit, your jealous habit, your self-centeredness, your loud voice, sharp tone, stiff body, angular movements.
Flow! 70% of the human body is water. Ask anybody who knows very basic, elementary physiology. 70% of the human body is water, and people can’t flow?! Huh? What’s the matter? Do you understand? Learn to flow.
And when you go into silence, don’t just wait to come to the Ashram for silence; give yourself at least half a day of total silence every week. Okay, during that time, no TV, no reading; just calming the mind. Okay. Just calming the mind. But “Hey! I just had an annoying thought.” Okay. Calm down. “I had another annoying thought.” Okay. Calm down. And then in half a day: “Well, aren’t these thoughts ever going to end?” And when the half-day is over, you get on the phone and talk for hours. That’s not silence. Come on. Do something. Change that. Okay, then wisdom will come in that silence and peacefulness of your body, mind and speech will come from that silence.
Practice and then practice and then practice. Okay. God bless you. It’s getting late and you have to have dinner.
vyāptam yena carācaram,
tat-padam darśitam yena
tasmai śri-gurave namaha
1) This is the refrain from the Siva-Sankalpa-Suktam, from the Evening Prayers, which Swami Veda lectured about in his last talk before going into Silence at the Sangha Gathering on March 9, 2013. Tan me manaḥ, śiva saṅkalpam astu has been translated as “May that my mind be filled with beautiful and benevolent resolves.” More on the Siva-Sankalpa-Suktam and Swami Veda’s lecture on it can be found on the AHYMSIN website: https://ahymsin.org/main/practice/practice-for-the-next-five-years-and-the-rest-of-your-life.html and https://ahymsin.org/main/misc/iva-sankalpa-sktam.html .
2) Relevant sutras from Swami Veda Bharati’s Yoga-sūtras of Patañjali with the Exposition of Vyasa: A Translation and Commentary, Volume II - Sādhana Pāda (2001):
Sutra II.46 sthira-sukham āsanam
A posture [as a constituent of yoga] is that which is steady and easeful.
Sutra II.47 pra-yatna-shaithilyānanta-sam-ā-pattibhyām
[The posture is perfected, made steady and comfortable] through relaxing the effort and coalescence [of awareness] with the endless, or with endlessness.
pra-yatna = through efforts;
shaithilya = relaxing;
ānanta ānanta endlessness;
sam-ā-pattibhyām = through coalescence
Sutra II.48 tato dvandvānabhi-ghātah
Thereby one is no longer impeded by the pairs of opposites.
ānabhi-ghātah = not suffering or being impeded by
Sutra II.49 tasmin sati shvāsa-pra-svāsayor gati-vi-cchedah prānāyāmah
When that [posture] has been [accomplished], braking the force and uncontrolled movement of inhalation and exhalation is termed breath control and expansion of prāna.
tasmin = upon that
sati = having been [accomplished]
shvāsa = [of ] inhalation [and]
pra-svāsayoh = exhalation
gati = [of] force, uncontrolled movement
vi-cchedah = break, braking [is called]
prānāyāmah = pranayama, control of the breath, expansion of prāna.
3) “Clarity and pleasantness of mind, peacefulness, silence, total control of one’s self, purification of sentiments – this is said to be mental asceticism.” (Bhagavad Gita, Verse 17:16)
4) The number 125,000, or sometimes 150,000, is the standard purascharana for initiates in the Himalayan Yoga Tradition. A purascharana is the practice of repeating a mantra a certain number of times, sometimes in a certain period of time. One makes a resolution and then japa is done faithfully every day until the 125,000 is completed.