Friends, I am making this recording at the ashram in Rishikesh at the bank of the Holy Mother, Ganga. Just across the river I often hear the sounds of wild peacocks. And just two nights ago I heard the great trumpeting of a tusker, an elephant we had seen walking around and eating the vegetation. At this time, 4:00 a.m., this place is magic. And I think of all of you who are deprived of such peace that comes to me when I spend some time here. Solitude to me becomes a tangible, palpable force - a force that keeps me company. When I am here, I do not want to move; I do not want to go anywhere. And then my thoughts run to you - and a certain call comes forth from within my heart and mind. Perhaps it is the Guru Spirit that is reminding me that I should do my duty towards you, as my Gurudeva has so generously done towards me within the tradition.
I am sharing these thoughts concerning what you might do during our annual Festival ending with the Full Moon of the Guru's Day, the Guru Purnima. What we have done together in the past years may be divided into two categories:
1. The purification of lifestyle and thoughts and emotions, so that we may select beautiful sentiments for ourselves and cultivate them, thereby enriching those around us.
2. And the practice the pure spirituality as with japa.
Perhaps the meditation centers that are communicating this to you will want to streamline all the practices of the purification of life and mind from the previous years. For this year, too, all of them remain in force, of course. Why should one lose one's treasures? Why should not one add to them? And remember that every beautiful sentiment is a treasure. Every beautiful thought is worth saving and enhancing and increasing. So all things that we have done together to purify life in previous years during the Festival need to be cultivated again. I need not repeat them here.
As to the practice of japa, I would again recommend 125,000 repetitions of your own mantra. Those who want to do it a little more intensely may not limit themselves to the period of 40 days. They may complete the practice over a longer period by not counting the japa of the mantra, but rather 125,000 breaths. How many mantra recitations there are in each breath depends entirely upon each person's capacity.
• Whenever you sit for the practice during this Festival, a few recitations of Gayatri at the beginning and at the end are always advisable - three, seven, nine, eleven or twenty-one. Those who learned to extend the Gayatri practice may use that extensive practice which ends with Om, Tat Sat Brahmarpanam Astu.
• Now, this is the basics of the japa, and, as I have said, the previous year's disciplines. But, it is time to go further, and I would like to extend again the invitation to continue living in the vasudeva principle, the principle of the in-dweller, the single in-dwelling deity, the in-dwelling force. How do we go about doing this? All these years we have prepared for this step. And what is that step? - the very, very first step in yoga. This year we shall introduce yoga into our lives, the first step in yoga, consciously.
As you know, that of the eight limbs or steps on the ladder of yoga, the first one is yama, the interior spiritual disciplines. And the very first one of the five yamas is ahimsa , or non-violence. And we want to introduce this principle into our lives. How do we introduce this principle into our lives? I'll share some thoughts with you. When we live by the in-dweller principle, we know that spirit in all beings is one. We must not be satisfied by merely paying lip-service to this principle. We must live by it in our relationships with all beings.
Much is being said about ecology these days: "Oh, how the species of wildlife are becoming extinct. Oh, we have to save the earth's biodiversity." Why? Because it is good for human beings, which means it is of long-term commercial benefit. This is nonsense. That is not how our ecology is going to be saved. There are religious and spiritual traditions in the world among which, for the last twenty-five or twenty-six centuries and longer, any direct or indirect killing of any living being is forbidden. Why is that? Because we know we live by fear. We are shaken with fear at all times in our lives. The Yoga Sutras define fear as violence. It is not fear of violence committed by others towards us; it is the recognition of the violence within us: I know within me that I have hurt living beings. Living beings, I am saying, not human beings. I have hurt living beings. We are living in this fear at all times.
So for these 40 days extend your non-violence to all living beings, and refrain from partaking from anything as food that has been killed. No, you not doing anything special for them. It is not an act of compassion towards them. It is a recognition of the oneness of the in-dwelling spirit. Every act of murder is a suicide because that other is also I, the Universal Self. Please remember that: Every act of murder is a suicide. There is no distinction between the two.
The second step along with that is that all anger is anger at yourself. Frustration at one's own inadequacy in love is anger. I am not saying, forswear, all anger right now. Again, there are questions about just anger, anger against injustices, anger where I am indeed right and the other party is indeed wrong, and so forth. Let us start working on the periphery, and not solve all the moral dilemmas right now. Let us make an experiment in life for these forty days. Cultivate a sweet sentiment. Again it is not an act of compassion, nor is it a repression; it is an act of cultivating a beautiful sentiment. For if the in-dwelling spirit is one, at whom am I being angry? Ask yourself that question, and that would help you to overcome the strong urge towards violence. Violence of speech, for instance. Violence that exhibits itself in a loud voice, in a screaming and a stamping of feet
Just curbing it for a period in your life. If, however, you have a clinical depression and it is caused by suppression of anger, then I am not recommending this practice for you. Then I am simply recommending cultivating the thought of the one, in-dwelling spirit.
So, make a start with these two observations: 1. Conquest of the urge to use other living beings for your pleasure; and 2. Conquest of the urge to use others as your safety valves. Both are violations of the principle of the one, indwelling spirit. And I don't believe any of these theories of the survival of the fittest and all that nonsense. These have been created to justify what the world wanted to do in the18th and19th centuries.
Think over it. Don't argue with me unnecessarily. Let this be an experiment in your life. You know what it will do you if you practice this non-violence? It will help you to conquer the fear of death; for fear of death, as I said, is nothing but the unconscious recognition of the fact of "how many times I have visited death upon others; may it not rebound to me."
Do not do these as a word of law. Get the spirit of it. Absorb and assimilate the spirit. Read once again the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi. Try to find arguments in favor of your opponent's actions, for you are he; you are she - two waves of the same ocean, two rays of the same sun, two flames of the same fire. Contemplate, and let your contemplations become your sentiments, and let your spirit soar to realize the unity that is the uni-verse. I think of this world at times as one single poem, and that is how I think of the word uni-verse. Let your life be a poem. Let your world be a poem to you. I wish you a sense of fulfillment at the end of this period of forty days.
And one thing more, in my usual habit of tolerance I have said, "Well you decide the level of relationship you feel with the guru lineage." But let me tell you one thing: unless that relationship deepens, all these practices will lead you nowhere. Find ways of deepening the relationship.
I pray for you, pray for your serenity and love in your life.
Usharbudh Arya (aka Swami Veda Bharati)
[Edited by Swami Ritavan Bharati]