Bhakti Yoga-Devotional Service to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna

Bhakti Yoga-Devotional Service to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna
Gopis performing Devotional Service to the Lordships Sri Sri Radha Krishna

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THINKING, FEELING AND WILLING

 
 

Sent to you by dinesh via Google Reader:

 
 

via Gita Coaching by akrura@gmail.com on 8/30/10

Regarding your question about thinking about sex, is that also one form of illicit sex or against our four principles? Yes, even thinking sex is the same as illicit sex, but one who is not advanced cannot avoid it. But that does not disturb our regular procedure.

We should strongly follow all the regulations and principles and chant and these thoughts will come and go away. Thinking will come; even great saintly persons like Lord Siva are not free of thoughts that come, so what to speak of you. So we must say that such thinking is no offense because you are accustomed to this habit.

But beyond thinking are feeling and willing, so even thoughts of sex connection may come, that is difficult even for saintly persons to avoid, still, in the further stages of feeling and willing we can easily conquer over this sex urge. Willing should be avoided and acting stopped, or else there is offense of breaking this basic prohibition of illicit sex-life.

Because thinking comes I shall give it practical shape: that is nonsense, but because it is an old habit we are unable to check it unless we can understand the nature of feeling, willing and then action, and how by proper use of intelligence and prevent thoughts which must come from maturing into actions -- that is the practical application of Krishna Consciousness regulative principles.

Even Lord Caitanya Himself said that sometimes when I see a wooden form of a woman, my mind becomes agitated but that does not mean that we should give it practical shape, that is intelligence. One must be convinced that sex-life without exception means trouble, therefore he is able to stop it at the thinking stage by not allowing it to be felt, much less willed and acted.

- Srila Prabhupada's letter to Kirtiraja -- Mayapur 28 February, 1972

 
 

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Intelligence - Putting Things Into Practice

 
 

Sent to you by dinesh via Google Reader:

 
 

via KKS Blog by noreply@blogger.com (aatish) on 8/27/10

Bhakta Frederick was so much very enthused from Kadamba Kanana Swami's association in Sweden this month. He asked some very interesting questions, jumped up and down in all the Kirtans, came to drop Maharaja to the airport and then...sent us here at the KKS blog a wonderful transcript from Kadamba Kanana Swami's talk!

After Maharaja's talk at the Sweden Hare Krishna farm we had took some photos.
Here's one of me and our new friend Bhakta Frederick! Thank's for the nectar below!

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Sweden August 2010)

It is said when we become pure devotees of Krsna, then Krsna Himself will be seated within our heart. Then we will see Krsna directly, the Supreme Lord, within our heart. And then He will directly reveal so many things to us. Then one simply acts as the agent of the Lord -so that is another level of intelligence, and that is the desired level of intelligence. That is complete, when intelligence has really penetrated fully unto the level of the heart - Not just all very intellectual but, because we begin to put things into practice, that intellectual knowledge also becomes realized and when the knowledge is fully realized, then intelligence happens on the platform of the heart, and then Krsna is steering that intelligence!Anyway, then it is fully full intelligence. So like that we are gradually increasing our intelligence in devotional service - Not necessarily that we'll in the beginning will only be able to do simple mathematical formulas and if you chant Hare Krsna for 20 years you'll be doing quantum mechanics! It's not exactly like that. Not automatically, but one's intelligence becomes deeper and more complete and one will see everything in it's full perspective, because intelligence is meant to place things in a proper perspective, that is the essence. Otherwise one will take part in sources of misery which are in relation to the material senses.
So many sources of misery, and due to ignorance we take part in these sources of misery. That ignorance can be simply a lack of knowledge, total ignorance, that we have no idea what's going on, or it can be a more subtle type of ignorance where we know : we know it's bad, and still we do it, because we don't really , we don't know in full depth how bad it is. We think:
"Yes, it's bad, but it's also good, and it's a combination of two, and the good is not so bad, and I'll take the bad with the good, and after all the good looks a lot better than the bad!"
and then we go for it!
The good always looks good, but it's never as good as it looked, and the bad, when you get it, it's always worse than it looked before! That seems to be the nature of good and bad, so keep that in mind, when you're observing the situation. So in this way in intelligence we are seeing on a deeper level. We're seeing what is beneficial in my relationship with Krsna.
It says "preyas, sreyas," immediate and long-term, okay; the long term, the relationship with Krsna. Difficult to come to that point, hm.. Difficult. As we are going through life, so many times, we just choose the wrong thing. We just choose, knowingly we choose the wrong thing. We just choose something temporary in this world, and it's just:
'Love, this love and that love and so much love'
and then -- so much misery!
Yeah, it's amazing. It happens, it happens. So again and again, it happens, and we think:
"Oh, this time it's real. Absolutely. This time it's different. I tell you, this time it's different!"
It's not any different at all, okay! It's not. It's the same! It's the same as all the other times!
Exactly the same, again and again!
That's what Bhagavatam is telling us [we] say:
"No, no, no. The Bhagavatam doesn't know what it's talking about. That's a book, and this is life! You know? And, you know, everything in life can't be in a book!"
NO NO NO It is! It's all in the book! It really is, it's all there!
Everything that's there in life, is actually in Bhagavatam. It's not that something hasn't been included in the Bhagavatam. It's all there!

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Sweden August 2010)

 
 

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Taste Coming From Doing The Best We Can

 
 

Sent to you by dinesh via Google Reader:

 
 

via KKS Blog by noreply@blogger.com (aatish) on 8/27/10


Click ' read more ' below for more from this talk!


(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 25th August 2010, Finland)

Thinking feeling and willing are related to the mind and the senses, so when the feeling is so strong:





'But I have to do it!'
'Why?!'

'Because I feel it! I feel that it's right and I have to do it'
'But the intelligence says it's wrong'

'No but I feel it!'
'No, intelligence says it's wrong!'

'But I FEEL IT!!!'





...The sword of transcendental knowledge, and it is Krishna who gives it, Govinda – because after all it was Govinda who spoke the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. He spoke the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna so He gave transcendental knowledge but it is very difficult to apply that transcendental knowledge.
That we all know very well that the knowledge of the Gita is compared to the sword of knowledge/ it is every sharp- so it has to be applied with intelligence. Intelligence is sharp, intelligence is cutting. It is sharp, sharp intelligence. So we are cutting with the intelligence- the sword of knowledge, sharp intelligence. So that means it can be painful – because with intelligence one knows what to do but the mind and senses don't feel like it- and still one has to do.
That is intelligence, therefore Intelligence means that one acts according to prescribed duty, that is intelligent…
…thinking feeling and willing are related to the mind and the senses, so when the feeling is so strong:
'But I have to do it!'
'Why?!'
'Because I feel it!'
'I feel that it's right and I have to do it'
'But the intelligence says it's wrong'
'No but I feel it!'
'No, intelligence says it's wrong!'
'But I FEEL IT!!!'
So one has to act upon the platform of intelligence , not on the platform of feelings. That is the difficulty so therefore anybody who acts on transcendental knowledge is intelligent. So therefore all us of should act, male or female, on transcendental knowledge – but this is difficult.

It is very difficult to control the mind and control the senses which are : thinking feeling and willing- so strong. A thought comes to our mind, maybe a good idea:
The mind says 'Yes Yes Yes Yes a good idea, Good Idea!'
And then the next thing: ' YES I want it! Want it now!!!!'
So strong!
The senses push so much and they have no mercy, they are demanding, very demanding. But with the sword of knowledge (sanskrit) one has to say 'No, I cut!' Cut.
But the difficulty is to do that. Very difficult. So it said that Lord Balarama gives us that strength to lift that sword. He gives us the strength to act upon knowledge and to cut our material desires. So that is interesting and Balarama gives us that strength by giving us devotional service – because Balarama makes unlimited arrangements in serving Krishna. By engaging in devotional service one becomes inspired. By engaging in devotional service one becomes very powerful and inspired and in this way we can actually do it on the taste that is there in devotional service.
One might say well there is a lot of austerity in devotional service. There is austerity but it is not the main thing, the main thing is taste. Taste in Kirtan, taste in Prasadam…or the taste of having made a sacrifice to Krishna. So there is no doubt that the source of our strength is not austerity.
It is said that austerity (Sanskrit), that is part of spiritual life but that is not the all in all. That is not the all in all. On the strength of austerity, how long can one last?
Just like when we have to carry bricks. How many bricks can you comfortably carry; six at a time? Eight at a time/? May be the first time you can even do ten at a time! But after a while ten at a time becomes very difficult to lift. After a while even eight becomes hard..even two!
If we have to lift hundreds or thousands of bricks then even to lift the last two hurts the arms, the back and everything! And it become a strain! So that is the nature of austerity. It is like a weight that we are lifting and with time we become fatigued. Therefore no matter how austere we are there is a limit to austerity. But the taste that comes in devotional service of just doing the best we can..
...just like in my early days in Krishna consciousness, one of my services was to prepare a room for a programme for a guest – and they said ;
'Quick quick quick, go in there and go clean the room!'
Quickly I cleaned the room, I quickly swept it, because it was quick and I quickly put the dust under the carpet! But then I thought:
'No! I can't do that because now I am cleaning for Krishna and Krishna is seeing under the carpet as well! So I lifted the carpet back up and took everything from the carpet and now it was for Krishna. And just the fact that we are trying to do a first class job is so satisfying. It gives that feeling:
'Yes I did the best I could!'
'I really tried my level best and I know I did.'
So therefore I can feel that:
'Yes I am satisfied with my performance because I tried my best!'


(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 25th August 2010, Finland)

 
 

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SMS updates of the weak(week ;))!

The Lord accepts the least qualification of the living entity and
awards him the highest reward. That is the standard of His character.
Therefore, who but the Lord can be the ultimate shelter???
Srimad Bhagavatham#3.2.23


D occupational activities,a man performs according2his own position r
only so much useless labor if they do not provide attraction4d message
of d Personality of Godhead-SB#1.2.8

4my own pleasure,I never Fear2commit any sin.Im devoid of pity&Im full
of selfishness.Im Sorry@other's happiness.Im an inveterate liar.Indeed
I delight in others' miseries-Amara Jivana,Bhakti Vinoda Thakur.
"Having awakened faith in My narrations,being disgusted with all
material activities,knowing that all sense enjoyment leads2misery,but
still being unable2renounce sense enjoyment,My devotee shud remain
happy&worship Me with faith&conviction.Even tho sometimes he is
engaged in sense enjoyment,My devotee knows it gives miserable
results&he sincerely,repents such activities-SB#11.20.27-28

Those who fix their minds on My personal form and are always engaged
in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith are considered by
Me to be most perfect.
(Lord Sri Krsna - Bhagavad gita 12.2)

For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me,I am never
lost, nor is he ever lost to Me-(Lord Sri Krsna - Bhagavad-Gita 6.30)

--
Yours
Dinesh
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New site discovered!

http://www.romapadaswami.com

Worth visiting....Lot of resources can be found in the above site


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Three Real Shelters!

HH Romapada Swami in Boston Apr 2010
August 23, 2010

The disposition of Maharaja Yudhisthira is just to serve...For Maharaja Yudhisthira, inquiring from Bhismadeva was not mechanical or just being polite. He engaged himself according to what he had heard from Bhisma. He applied the teachings that he heard...When there are proper brahmanas, proper ksatriyas and proper parents, there are so much protection and well-being for an individual in the society. There is very little of such opportunities in Kali-yuga. So, the shelter must be taken largely from Srimad Bhagavatam and those who are living the life of Bhagavatam. Those who take shelter of Bhagavatam, and those who live the life of Bhagavatam, along with the sankirtana of the holy name, find that protection. These shelters give real protection. One can feel really protected if these three shelters are taken - the book Bhagavatam, the person bhagavat and the holy name - then there is shelter. Those who are taking the position of caring for others, need to understand these principles from all angles of social, political, economical and spiritual upliftment.

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Confidential Exchange with the Deities

Meditation 226: Confidential Exchange with the Deities
August 2, 2010

Only with very intimate devotees will the Deity interact in such a manner as took place between Pundarika Vidyanidhi and Lord Jagannath. A very similar exchange recently took place between Jananivasa Prabhu in Mayapur and the Lord Jagannath Deities. It is a most intimate loving exchange!


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How we break each other's hearts!

Video-Isn't It A Pity (Version Two)



Song: Isn't It A Pity (Version Two)
Duration: 4.44
Track No.: 2-3
Composer: Harrison
Vocals: George Harrison
Year: 1970Lyrics:

Isn't it a pity
Isn't it a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity

Some things take so long
But how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we're all the same
And because of all their tears
Your eyes can't hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Now, isn't it a pity

Isn't it a pity, (oh-o)
Now, isn't is a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Now, isn't it a pity
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THE QUESTION THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE

 
 

Sent to you by dinesh via Google Reader:

 
 

via Gita Coaching by akrura@gmail.com on 8/25/10

This question can completely transform your life and improve your life leadership:

What is the most valuable use of my time - right now?

Use it at least once every hour.

If you practice using it, you will see that you will have more time to do things that matter most to you and that you are becoming more happy and satisfied.

The magic of this question is that it connects you with your intuition, with your highest values and with what is most important to you.

The people and things that matter most to us should always be our top priority, and this question facilitates that smart choice.

 
 

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Becoming Fearless!

 
 

Sent to you by dinesh via Google Reader:

 
 

via KKS Blog by noreply@blogger.com (aatish) on 8/25/10

After an ecstatic few days at Sweden, Kadamba Kanana Swami enthuses the devotees at Helsinki, Finland. This is a transcript is from the talk that Kadamba Kanana swami gave this morning!
The pics are from the last flight from Sweden to Finland!


(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 25th August 2010)


THE LAWMAKER
Everything is going on in the universe by the arrangement of the Lord and we are remembering like that, and that nothing is going on automatically as the scientists think by laws – but rather that these laws are going on by the arrangement of the Supreme Lord. As Prabhupada was saying they can see the laws but can't see the law maker.



BECOMING FEARLESS
So we are simply seeing Krishna and in that way a devotee can become fearless. Fear has it's origin in being separate from Krishna. So when there is distance from Krishna, separated from Krishna , then there is fear, but when one is actually one in purpose with Krishna, when one is servant of Krishna, fully dedicating himself to the mission of Krishna then there is no more fear. Even the demigods are acting out of fear because they have a separate agenda than the agenda of Krishna, they want to serve Krishna but they also want to enjoy their own facilities. So therefore they are also in fear. But when are completely having no other purpose and to fulfil the purpose of Krishna then all fear disappears…


IN AND OUT OF CONTROL
One should cultivate such fearlessness, that measns we simply accept what Krishna arranges – but that's not so much the case because we can see how much we are conditioned – because we always want to control the situation:
"Oh it's getting out of control!"
But out of who's control?! It's not getting of Krishna's control!... maybe out of our control but never out of Krishna's control…(Sanskrit) the material energy is always under Krishna's controil. But for us the material energy is very difficult to deal with. It is said that it is perplexing. The material energy is perplexing. It means that it gets out of control even when we are not expecting it, even when something was so many times so easy to control- Suddenly it doesn't work. Suddenly it gets out of control.

GOING ON BY CHANCE!
It is amazing sometimes. The things that can happen in the material world. A story is therE, which was found in the newspaper:
The story was in Spain, in Spain they have big forest fires- they have helicopters with big water tanks, that are used to fight these forest fires. So there was this forest fire and the helicopters were flying to the sea, and they come with their tanks and scoop out the water. So there was this one man and he was snorkling in the sea! …and he had gone quite a distance and somehow or other the helicopter did not see him, maybe he noticed the helicopter but it was too late! They scooped him up in the tank, then they dropped him on the forest fire! So of course he got cooked alive and then later they identified this man and it turned out he was the owner of a …..Lobster restaurant!
And that was in the paper! Even the karmis could see that there was maybe a connection!
They could even see that maybe, he was putting living lobsters in boiling water and now he was himself put alive in the fire - and even they could see the connection- So in this way nothing is going on by chance – everything is going on by the arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

IMPEREFCT ARRANGEMENT BY GOD?
A rationalistic philosopher, David Hume is like really the founders of nationalism and who took the western tradition away from God consciousness. One of his arguments was that if you say that everything is going on by the design of the Supreme Lord then why are there natural disasters?- which prove that things are not perfectl y arranged. That's what he was saying, there are natural disasters, there are flood , there are famines, there are earthquakes, these prove that things are not going on by a perfect design….
Wrong! He was thinking of God as an order supplier and that the Supreme Lord simply has to provide everything we need and he never thought that when the Supreme Lord thinks that we are ready for a flood and He sends us the flood – that he didn't see.
So we see that in this way everything including calamities are part of the perfect arrangement of the Supreme Lord and that they have a purpose…..

ARRANGEMENT OF THE LORD…In india there were about 7000 people killed by this Tsunami, so the whole world was full of sympathy and they offered help to India, international help to deal with the crisis and India said; 'It'salright, we can handle this, we don't need international help '
– because India is a place where there are so many floods, so many such things. People there can accept such things, they are of course sad but it is not the end of the world. They can accept it is the will of the world and this spirit of accepting calamities as the will of the Lord, is the unique strength of India. No country has gone through as much trouble as India, in terms of famine, in terms of flood, in terms of eartquakes…huge earthquales , huge calamities, and yet people take it as somehow or other it is the arrangement of the Lord, somehow or other it is due to beqause of our karma. Therefore they can accept, they can accept such destiny.
So this mood of acceptance is the beginning of becoming fearless…

TOTALLY DIFFERENT APPROACH…Srila Prabhupada was saying that In his childhood, there was a cholera epidemic – this class is full of nectar – it goes from one disaster to another disaster!..just to enliven everyone!
Srila Prabhupada was describing that there was a choldera epedemic when he was a child and people were dying like flies and that the solution to the whole thing was Harinama! So everyday when they had a lot of Harinam, then the epidemic subsided!
So that was a totally different approach to the western approach. This really is what I'm talking about, I'm not really talking about disasters, I'm talking about the approach to depending on the Supreme Personality of Godhead and to take shelter of Him and to see Him as the main source of our protection, which is very different from the western approach.

RELY ON KRISHNA
So we are simply taking shelter of devotional service, then everything will simply be taken care of. We are not saying that it is forbidden to make some security arrangement but we see that Srila Prabhupada was very much relying on Krishna.

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Helsinky, Finland August 25th 2010)

 
 

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Tomorrow attitude

"Sometimes one may think: "Let me do what is unfavourable for my sadhana today, and from tomorrow i will take special care to avoid this." But one who manifests such weakness of heart will never attain auspiciousness." Thakura Bhaktivinoda.

--
Yours
Dinesh

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One has to get rid of all three stages of attachment to the material world




Krishna.com eBook Club | Bhagavad-gita As It Is | Part [BG.CH4.16]
----------------------------

Chapter 4

Transcendental Knowledge

 
TEXT 10:
vita-raga-bhaya-krodha
man-maya mam upasritah
bahavo jnana-tapasa
puta mad-bhavam agatah
 
 
TRANSLATION:
Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me—and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.
 
 
PURPORT:
As described above, it is very difficult for a person who is too materially affected to understand the personal nature of the Supreme Absolute Truth. Generally, people who are attached to the bodily conception of life are so absorbed in materialism that it is almost impossible for them to understand how the Supreme can be a person. Such materialists cannot even imagine that there is a transcendental body which is imperishable, full of knowledge and eternally blissful. In the materialistic concept, the body is perishable, full of ignorance and completely miserable. Therefore, people in general keep this same bodily idea in mind when they are informed of the personal form of the Lord. For such materialistic men, the form of the gigantic material manifestation is supreme. Consequently they consider the Supreme to be impersonal. And because they are too materially absorbed, the conception of retaining the personality after liberation from matter frightens them. When they are informed that spiritual life is also individual and personal, they become afraid of becoming persons again, and so they naturally prefer a kind of merging into the impersonal void. Generally, they compare the living entities to the bubbles of the ocean, which merge into the ocean. That is the highest perfection of spiritual existence attainable without individual personality. This is a kind of fearful stage of life, devoid of perfect knowledge of spiritual existence. Furthermore there are many persons who cannot understand spiritual existence at all. Being embarrassed by so many theories and by contradictions of various types of philosophical speculation, they become disgusted or angry and foolishly conclude that there is no supreme cause and that everything is ultimately void. Such people are in a diseased condition of life. Some people are too materially attached and therefore do not give attention to spiritual life, some of them want to merge into the supreme spiritual cause, and some of them disbelieve in everything, being angry at all sorts of spiritual speculation out of hopelessness. This last class of men take to the shelter of some kind of intoxication, and their affective hallucinations are sometimes accepted as spiritual vision. One has to get rid of all three stages of attachment to the material world: negligence of spiritual life, fear of a spiritual personal identity, and the conception of void that arises from frustration in life. To get free from these three stages of the material concept of life, one has to take complete shelter of the Lord, guided by the bona fide spiritual master, and follow the disciplines and regulative principles of devotional life. The last stage of the devotional life is called bhava, or transcendental love of Godhead.
---------------------------
Translation and commentary by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Discuss this book in the forum: http://connect.krishna.com/forum/77

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--
Yours
Dinesh


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Yoga Psychology-**lengthy but will get a deeper insight on the subtle mind and it's nature

Yoga Psychology

Dhanurdhara Swami July 22nd, 2009

Introduction

"Is there therapy in the Vedas?" I was a bit taken aback by this inquiry from a young and dedicated yoga practitioner. He had been struggling for years with psychological problems. Although he had embraced a traditional path of yogic transformation, he found the help he needed in a more modern self-help process based on contemporary psychology. As I thought about his inquiry, however, the answer seemed obvious. Rich in a tradition of intact family and community support, those born in traditional India did not need to rely on specialists to sort out mental afflictions caused mostly by social dysfunction. Classical Indian philosophy, especially its traditions of yoga, does, however, have detailed information on the nature of the mind. i

Inspired by my young friend's question and desiring to organize that information in a relevant way to help address the mental challenges so many people face today, I categorized the basic tenets of yoga psychology into five broad principles:

  1. The mind is malleable.
  2. There is a correlation between the form the mind assumes and how one feels.
  3. The mind is swayed by the power of three main factors—karma, environment, and actions.
  4. By controlling the form or mode the mind takes, one can substantially influence how one feels.
  5. Full satisfaction can ultimately only be achieved by transcending the mind and realizing the true self.

The mind, like any mechanism, can be used more effectively when one knows its workings. This is especially important as the proper use of the mind is the basis of self-fulfillment. Yoga psychology thus speaks to the most important of all human aims: true happiness.

The Basic Principles of Yoga Psychology:

One: The mind is malleable.

Subtle things are often described in more concrete ways to help us understand them. In the school of Yoga the mind is thus often described as supple, almost like clay, in that it can be easily molded and that external influences make indelible impressions.

The significance of this description of the mind as supple (Principle One) is the correlation between the shape the mind assumes and one's accompanying moods (Principle Two) and that by understanding the main factors by which the mind is molded (Principle Three) one can influence how one feels (Principle Four). Most important, by this understanding, one can learn to shape the mind as a vehicle for its own transcendence and attain ultimate satisfaction (Principle Five).

Two: There is a correlation between the form the mind assumes and how one feels.

Like everything in the world, the mind is composed of a combination of three modes of nature—sattva guna (goodness), raja guna (passion) and tamo guna (ignorance)—which are in flux. These subtle strands of matter, which are the elemental substrata of creation, also have specific intrinsic characteristics with particular symptoms and effects. Because there is a direct correlation between the modes of nature and how one feels, by identifying the present form or mode of the mind, one can also comprehensively understand its influence.

Three: The mind is swayed by the power of three main factors—one's karma, one's environment, and one's actions.

The modes of nature are constantly competing within the mind for influence. A particular mode gains prominence by its association with one of three factors: the weight of one's karma, the nature of one's environment, and the tenor of one's actions. How each affects the mind is comprehensively described in classical Indian thought:

  1. The positive effect of karma (destiny) on consciousness is described in three basic ways:

    A. By understanding the message of destiny: Destiny is the language of God. Each event we experience is the Divine in the form of time (kala) telling us something essential about ourselves to help us grow.

    B. By understanding the proper response to destiny: Sastra (Indian sacred texts) also describes the appropriate response to each circumstance of destiny to ensure the healthiest development of the mind.

    C. By understanding how to align oneself with our innate nature born of destiny: Our basic nature is composed of latent impressions in the subconscious (samskaras) posited there at birth as a result of karma. Sastra describes the science of living in harmony with one's nature, which is the foundation of a peaceful mind.

  2. The subtle effects of the diverse forms of the environment on consciousness are described by a thorough classification of the various objects of perception (sights, sounds, and so on) into a gradation of modes that shape the mind according to their influence.

    For example, music within a specific mode can move the mind accordingly, either towards lethargy (music in the mode of ignorance), restlessness (music in the mode of passion), or peacefulness (music in the mode of goodness). All objects of perceptions can similarly be classified with predictable affects on the consciousness.

  3. Similarly, the subtle effects of the diverse forms of action are classified according to motive and understanding with their corresponding influence on the mind.

    For example, if one acts for self-purification or just adheres to moral or spiritual principles (actions in the mode of goodness) one's mind becomes more lucid, increasingly peaceful, and strong in will, the symptoms and effects of goodness.

    This understanding of how actions influence the mind also leads to a basic understanding of dharma. Dharma is the correct choice in any circumstance to ensure the healthiest affect on the mind. This very subtle science of prescribed action (dharma) is elaborately described in sastra.

Four: By controlling the form or mode of the mind, one can substantially influence one's desires and feelings.

All forms of therapy and self-help deal with guiding one to a greater self-awareness and personal satisfaction. By offering a system that accurately describes the nature of the mind, including a description of the internal and external factors that influence it, Classical Indian philosophy contributes substantially to the science of mental transformation.

Five: Full satisfaction can ultimately be attained only by rising above the mind and experiencing the real self.

As the material mind is not the true self, no matter how much one transforms the mind to conform to higher forms of nature, perfect mental satisfaction will evade one for the following reasons:

  1. The pleasure experienced by the mind is ultimately superficial, a joy experienced by identifying with something external to the self. Seeking such pleasure is akin to a person enjoying the pleasure of a dream.
  2. It is also a form of happiness that is temporary and therefore full of duality. Duality means that alongside this pleasure — which is connected with a false sense of self — there must also be the distress of pleasure lost when the body ends.

In this regard there is a tradition of Sankhya (analysis) that identifies all 24 material elements, including the mind, for the purpose of isolating the eternal or spiritual self for the attainment of happiness that is real, eternal, and non-dual.

Although yoga promotes an integrated, peaceful mind, it is not meant to be an end in itself, but a means to stabilize the mind for its highest purpose—realization of a higher state of consciousness. This is classically achieved through the practice of three core paths—work (karma-yoga), knowledge (jnana-yoga), and devotion (bhakti-yoga).

The Fundamental Nature of the Mind

To understand the mind properly a basic understanding of its function is essential. One therefore has to be familiar with its context or purpose in the cosmos.

In Yoga, Sankhya, and much of Vedanta, this world is described as pure awareness (purusa or soul) entangled or misidentified with matter (prakrti). Although the ultimate beginning of this dilemma is not a major concern for most, the immediate cause of this unwholesome juncture is; Out of egotism when the soul rejects its pure state of selfless awareness, its consciousness is projected on a particular field of matter called the body (which includes the mind). As the changes in one's life that evoke duality and fear, such as disease and death, are happening in the body, not the true self, this unnatural and temporary state of identification is the root of suffering. Awakening from it, or emancipation (moksa), is thus life's ultimate objective.

In context of this cosmic paradigm, the mind, called the citta, is the first sheath or covering of the soul. It functions as an instrument whereby the soul (purusa) enveloped in matter can either view the world to serve the false self (and suffer) or the pure self (and feel fulfilled). Bhagavad-gita thus aptly describes this function in the simple duality as the mind being either the friend or enemy of the soul. ii Similarly, the Yoga Sutras describe thoughts born of the mind as either unhealthy (klistha) or healthy (aklistha). iii

To fulfill this dual role, the mind has different functions of thought. Although different schools ascribe slightly different roles to the different divisions of the mind, there is a basic agreement that the mind has three essential functions of thought:

  1. manas – impulsive synthesis and response (initial categorization of all phenomena received through the senses and one's spontaneous like or dislike of them)
  2. buddhi – reflective examination (judgment and will)
  3. ahankara – relational response (self-identity and self-conceit)

Any system of transformation, whether to improve basic mental health or to achieve self-realization, is based on an understanding of at least some facsimile of these divisions.

Once the mind categorizes an object through a combination of these three functions of thought—our feelings, judgment, and sense of relationship—an impression of that object is imbedded within the mind. These latent impressions, called samskaras, created both in this life and the past, determine how we view, feel, and respond to the world. They are the single most important factor in over-all well-being.

The first function of any system of self-improvement is thus to help one judge whether one's present thoughts based on these latent impressions represent the true nature of things. It then helps one create a more accurate perception through the tools available from that system. iv

The Healthy and Unhealthy Mind

As mentioned, the nature of the mind is the samskaras imbedded within it. We are born in a basic mental condition due to such samskaras carried from past lives and also face certain conditions and events in life that foster further samskaras.

Our formative years, where buddhi (intelligence) is underdeveloped, especially fashions the basis of one's mental health. Buddhi functions as a medium between the information coming through the senses and the final impression such data leaves on the consciousness. In other words, intelligence functions to translate our experiences in a reasonable way before they make impulsive and unhealthy samksaras. A child is thus especially susceptible to distorted impressions and even trauma because of this inability to digest his or her experiences by proper analysis into reasonable memories. v

Stable parents, who affectionately monitor their child to protect him or her from such stirring events, and who deal properly with them, instill good samskaras in their child. Good samskaras mean impressions that reflect the true nature of things and produce thoughts that help one grow. Such parents especially provide a nurturing environment. Deep impressions of affection in the mind enable one to see the world with promise and to feel secure even in challenging circumstances. Bereft of such memories, one is prone to depression.

A child also needs reasonable boundaries set by the parents. Without a relatively fixed world set by the protective figure, the child lives in a world of flux determined by his whims and demands. As a result, impressions of anxiousness are imbedded in the child's mind, making him susceptible to excessive anxiety as he grows up to face a world of challenge and change.

Parents are the most important factor in the development of a strong mind. Thus a culture that is not structured to facilitate appropriating nurturing and reasonable boundaries molded by strong traditions of child rearing and community support will produce in various degrees mental instability, even if not at the level of trauma.

Although the foundations of mental health are set in the formative years, it is important to remember that the mind is malleable. With the proper process of transformation, mental health can be attained at any stage of life.

Attaining Mental Health

Especially in the modern world, people find themselves in societies where the support of community and family has been substantially eroded. Much of modern society thus relies on specialists in therapy and self-transformation to attain good mental health.

Although sound mental health was integral to traditional Indian society and therapy as a specialized field dealing with mental disorders was virtually non-existent, still within the scope of yogic knowledge there is a wealth of in-depth information on the workings of the mind, including knowledge applicable to restoring mental health. vi Some of that knowledge was alluded to in the beginning of this article when the basic principles of yoga psychology were described, especially the three factors by which the mind is swayed—our karma, the environment, and our actions. Each of these will now be discussed in more depth:

Karma and the Mind

Karma is a powerful factor in influencing the mind. What comes to us in our daily lives by destiny is often disconcerting. Powerful mental states may also suddenly arise as a result of past actions. Due to karma we are also born with a set mental nature, which conditions the mind. Our response to these three manifestations of destiny is the main factor in forming our mental state.

Practically all classical Indian schools of thought accept destiny as an eternal moral order, a force to help us grow provided we comprehend the message it bears and respond properly. Sastra, to a large degree, is a compendium of archetypal stories of destiny with lessons on how to understand and respond to various circumstances. That all tribulations of destiny are filled with messages of self-transformation is attested to by the fact that most individuals would not trade the difficulties they underwent if they had to also relinquish the valuable lessons they learned from them. According to yoga psychology, optimum mental health cannot be achieved without some connection to a tradition of knowledge that teaches one to understand and respond to each situation in life in a way that molds one's mind towards goodness.

Although we can substantially change our nature by guidance and self-discipline, we are still born with a certain basic karmic nature. Part of that nature includes inborn occupational proclivities, for instance the longing to be creative, make money, or become learned. Another part of our psyche carries innate social tendencies such as the degree of our detachment or attachment to worldly life. If unhealthy attachments are pronounced, they cannot be transcended by will power alone, nor is it healthy to do so. Repression causes frustration and anger, which molds the mind towards ignorance, making one susceptible to the result of that mode: inactivity and depression. Sastra thus helps identify one's occupational and social proclivity and prescribes suitable duties based on those inclinations, such as recommendations for career and marriage. Only by the regulation of strong attachments, and not by the unrestricted indulgence or thoughtless repression of them, both which degrade the mind, can one be elevated to a higher state of mental well-being.

Optimal mental health is thus very hard to achieve without carefully understanding one's nature and engaging it properly.

Environment and the Mind

Bhagavad-gita confirms the importance of the environment in molding the mind towards goodness when it deems the knowledge found in the fourteenth chapter vii, where the modes of nature are comprehensively analyzed, best of all. Traditional Indian culture, ideally ordered in goodness, was itself influenced by this knowledge. Thus just living in such a society, where many aspects of life were carefully guided by this knowledge, from the objects of sound (music) and sight (art) to moral behavior, was therapeutic.

Although today one has little access to such an environment, still everyone has at least some control over his or her immediate surroundings. For example, the parts of the day that are in different modes, are usually within one's rule. Thus if we simply wake early, just before and around sunrise viii, which is the time of the day substantially in the form of sattva guna (goodness), the mind will be given a significant boost towards goodness. Of course, the factors that influence the mind are numerous, but even such a simple adjustment of taking avail of the early morning hours will substantially engender peacefulness and clarity of mind.

All five objects of the senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste) can manifest in different modes and thus everything from our diet to the people we associate with, from the places we frequent to our level of cleanliness ix, can be molded in a way to influence the mind to a higher state of well-being.

Those concerned with strong inner well-being, whether to make an unhealthy mind healthy for the purpose of general contentment, or to make the healthy mind more fit to facilitate meditation, must know the science of how the environment affects the consciousness.

Actions and the Mind

There are three groups of action geared for positive transformation: actions with an innate spirit of attachment, but restrained by regulation (karma-yoga), restrained actions (jnana) x, and dedicated actions (bhakti).

For the sake of discussing action in terms of how it affects the supple mind, I have divided action into four categories. The three groups of action above will be explored within those categories xi:

I. Dharma
II. Programming
III. Spiritual practice in general
IV. The path of devotion (Bhakti)

How Actions Affect the Mind

Before discussing the four categories of action in relation to the mind, it is helpful to review the mechanics of how information from the senses and one's response to it create the general tenor of one's mind:

Information entering the mind xii through the senses makes latent impressions called samskaras that form one's basic psychological make-up. Samskaras are imprints in the subconscious that push to be filled or nor filled with the same experiences that caused them. They can also be called attachments, latent desires, or memories of pleasures. xiii Based on those samskaras, one responds to future data by ascribing some feeling (like or dislike) towards it. As a result one is impelled to once again act, to have new experiences and thus either create additional samskaras, or strengthen old ones. In either case, the tenor of the mind is altered.

For example, if one drinks alcohol and becomes gladdened, a memory of that particular pleasure, a samskara, is imbedded in the psyche. The desire for intoxication thus becomes part of one's psychology. Although that imprint may remain latent (in that one may not always feel like drinking) when that samskara is activated by some circumstance, for example going to a party where alcohol is served, one is impelled to drink. In this way, a further imprint for drinking is imbedded in the psyche, increasing one's desire for alcohol and also the likelihood of drinking in the future.

In other words, a single act and the accompanying experience can entangle the soul in a continual cycle of the creation and fulfillment of impulses. Within this karmic circle the samskara at the root of the initial action is then perpetually strengthened so that a predominant psychological nature is formed.

It can't be stressed enough how important properly translating the information we receive through the senses is, as the samskara made by sense data is ultimately determined by one's interpretation of it. In other words, the very same information can produce imprints that foster either enlightening or degrading thoughts (and consequent actions) depending on how such data is computed. xiv

Pertaining to this subject, the role of buddhi, or intelligence, as the function of the mind with the capacity to properly digest or comprehend information has already been discussed. Properly comprehended or digested sense data means understanding the true nature of things.

This correlation between understanding reality and mental health and the parallel between ignorance and suffering is at the core of yoga psychology. This connection is also not foreign to most schools of psychological therapy where most fears, phobias, anxieties, and mood swings are not considered fundamental conditions of reality, but mistaken conceptions of it, the only difference being the differing methods stressed to bring one to a higher level of cognition. Most schools also recognize the transforming or therapeutic affect of bringing one to a stage of appropriate action based on higher cognition and the positive affect that has on the mind.

In conclusion, actions have a very influential affect on the condition of the mind, and inspire positive mental transformation when they are in response to a solid understanding of the world. All four categories of action are thus based on producing healthy imprints related to an understanding of the true nature of objects and situations.

I. Dharma

As discussed, knowledge of the true nature of things and responding to the world based on that understanding creates the best disposition of mind. The science of doing this is called dharma.

In the introduction dharma was defined as:

"The correct choice in any circumstances to ensure the healthiest affect on the mind is called dharma. This very subtle science of prescribed action (dharma) is elaborately described in sastra."

Dharma is subtle because it is prescribed according to one's individual nature, which varies from person to person. In fact, it varies right from birth where a fraction of an almost unlimited stock of a person's past karma, including strong samskaras, is funneled into one's particular field of activities (the gross and subtle bodies). Dharma is thus always done in careful consideration of one's individual nature, although certain actions are obviously more universal prescriptions, such as The Ten Commandments or the yamas (moral restraints) of the Yoga Sutras.

An example of this principle of dharma being prescribed according to one's nature, and not universally applied, is the appropriate response to the objects of sex desire. Like all potential responses to pleasure, the first consideration is the degree of one's attachment towards the object of that pleasure. Thus if sexual attraction is at a depth where it cannot be transcended, then dharma is to act on that desire, but under careful regulation, in this case limiting the fulfillment of sex desire at the least to the sphere of marriage, if not solely for procreation. If the depth of one's attachment is minimal, however, dharma is the opposite, renunciation of those desires. The same paradigm is applicable to all prescriptions of dharma—attachments that cannot be transcended have to be carefully worked through according to prescribed regulation. The result is also the same —the mind is favorably transformed by carefully doing one's duty.

An especially important application of this model of action is the choice of suitable work. Occupation is an activity that occupies most of our day and thus a key element in how the mind forms itself. When our work is lined up with our inborn nature and done in the proper way, when it is dharma, the mind is positively transformed. When it is not, one is frustrated. Day after day tolerating boredom or frustration due to occupational work against one's nature can easily activate either a strong desire for unwarranted indulgence in sense pleasure or excessive inactivity. Unfortunately, such desires must be carried home for fulfillment often crimping in mode and time our ability to put our mind towards direct spiritual practice.

Positive mental transformation, for most, cannot be separated from a socio-occupational system designed to provide both meaningful work (varna) and an appropriate and supportive social status (ashram). Such a system, such as the social structure that was an ideal for Classical Indian society xv, was also best supported by a simple agrarian based economy. Its purpose was not only to supply suitable psychophysical occupational and social engagement, but to free one's time and energy for spiritual practices geared for direct mental transformation.

Although modern society is not particularly structured to support mental health or spiritual growth, and one often finds oneself in stressful occupational and social situations xvi, one seeking to maximize mental and spiritual development cannot neglect a holistic approach, one that seeks, as far as possible, to align one's social and occupational life with one's psychophysical nature.

In summary, there are two choices for incorrect action (adharma) and two choices for correct action (dharma):

Incorrect action 1: To impulsively indulge one's unhealthy attachments. Such action is in the mode of ignorance and molds the mind accordingly.

Incorrect action 2: To repress one's desires whimsically. By doing so one's mind is occupied further by those attachments leading to frustration, anger, and bewilderment. Repression thus also eventually molds the mind towards ignorance, the worst mode.

Correct action 1: To satisfy one's attachments by prescribed regulation. Regulation affords one the advantage of both the satisfaction and renunciation of desire. By prescribing conditions to fulfill desire, one not only thinks less of those desires, but avoids the foibles of repression. Regulation also means that beyond the limited prescription for enjoyment, one is renouncing passions, thus ruling them by goodness and gradually moving the mind towards that mode.

Correct action 2: To renounce the object of the senses by one qualified to do so. By renunciation at the level of true indifference, one attains the platform of dispassion, and quickly brings the mind to its most purified state. xvii

Suitable mentors must thus not only clearly know that one is not the body, but they must help people understand what the body is. If one is not able to reasonably assess a person's level of attachment, but is only able to highlight the duality between mind and body, action cannot be prescribed in a way that fosters a peaceful and functional mind, either for living in the world or for pursuing transcendence. Such guides must also be qualified to inspire and teach renunciation to gradually move people towards that goal.

II. Programming

Regardless of one's level of renunciation, one can learn to program or condition the mind to give up bad habits and to develop good ones. This is described in the Yoga Sutras as consciously supplanting bad samskaras with good ones.

To understand how programming works, one should first understand the duality between pleasure and happiness, that samskaras that may give momentary pleasure, such as intoxication and fault-finding, also simultaneously mold the mind towards distress. Understanding this duality, one can then program the mind to supplant the samskaras impelling one to indulge in a bad habit by associating it with ones that highlight the suffering it causes. For example, one may give up smoking by regularly visualizing the distress caused by it, such as lung disease and the lack of character such addictions reflect, so that eventually a healthy samskara of aversion (smoking is bad) supersedes the unhealthy imprint of attachment (smoking is good).

As one can displace the root of a bad habit by creating a distressful imprint in the mind, one can also uproot a bad habit by nurturing another attachment that gives one more pleasure, but sits in opposition to that tendency. For instance, one can be attached to being truthful and then vow to never smoke. Every time one then desires to smoke, the desire for truthfulness is activated, overpowering the craving to smoke. Of course, this is provided that the samskara for honesty is deeper than the samskara for smoking, or whatever bad habit one is trying to overcome.

These are just simple examples to illustrate how the mind can be programmed or conditioned to change one's nature. They also illustrate the importance of integrity. Integrity means to make one's thoughts and actions one or integral with one's principles. A strong taste for honesty makes it so much easier to undergo the discipline required for transformation. Without such integrity, our commitment to overcome bad habits will often be rationalized away. Yoga psychology is thus always accompanied by a culture that diligently programs honesty, by the values it stresses, the exemplars it promotes and the literature it recommends. xviii

Again, although we may be at a disadvantage in the modern world where good samskaras, such as integrity, are generally not sufficiently cultured, it doesn't mean that we can't find practical means to program the mind to be true to our principles. For example, one can still consciously seek exemplars in character. Exemplars in character, those who have strong attachment to principles, are one of the most powerful ways to instill impressions of character, especially if one can develop a relationship of respect and service to such persons. We naturally try to give up habits that are antithetical to the lives of those we admire. One can also hear about such people, especially if they are saints of the past. xix

Of course, the ability to subdue passions is also affected by the strength of the habit we are trying to control. When such imprints have become extremely deep by repeated reinforcement, they are called addictions. At that level they forcibly supersede good judgment and take a more concerted effort to overcome.

In that regard, the 12-step program is an apparently successful method of overcoming addictions. An interesting study would be an analysis of exactly how that is accomplished in terms of yoga psychology, especially in terms of programming. From those I have known in the midst of such programs, it is clear to me that it is an ingenuous way of superseding very deep, bad samskaras by strongly reinforcing and creating good ones, such as humility, integrity, the distress of bad habits, the pleasure of good habits, and respect for exemplars of non-addiction. I am especially intrigued by the spiritual aspect of the program. By admitting one's helplessness (the first step) and petitioning a higher power (the second step) one creates or reinforces the good samskaras of humility and dependence. Such qualities allow one to experience affection, which strikes against the root of all addiction—the lack of memory in the subconscious of nurturing that fosters depression and impels one to mistakenly fill that void of happiness with repeated sensual stimulation.

To transform the mind it must be reconditioned. Yoga psychology, by describing how the mind works, offers a working model of how to positively program the mind.

III. Spiritual Practice (sadhana)

The objective of yoga psychology is not just to stabilize the mind, but to perfect it. This was described in the introduction:

"Yoga psychology deals with the transformation and stabilization of the mind, not as an end in itself, but as means to attain a higher state of consciousness beyond the mind where the purusa, or soul, imbibes in its own pure nature."

To attain that state, however, the support of the mind is necessary. The mind is called antar-karanam, the internal instrument. Like all instruments, the mind requires tuning or sharpening to function best. To succeed in spiritual life, one must therefore gradually mold the mind to higher forms of cognition.

In terms of transforming the mind, we have already discussed the importance of properly structuring our environment and adhering to moral actions within our day to day lives. To achieve optimum transformation and ultimate transcendence, however, it is of utmost importance to reserve a time and place to exclusively engage with the mind for the purpose of transforming it. Such a prescribed exercise is called sadhana, or spiritual practice. The foundation of sadhana is meditation.

To understand how meditation transforms the mind, one first has to understand its goal — to bring the mind to its pure state. This state can be compared to the original condition of a perfectly tuned instrument where its maximum potential is realized. The mind thus functions best in sattva, the most wholesome state of matter. In other words, in sattva the discriminating ability of the mind is sharpened to the degree where the soul can perfectly distinguish itself from its encasement, the mind and body. In terms of this ability to foster true perception, this optimum state can also be compared to a properly formed and thoroughly cleansed lens.

Spiritual practice is thus the process of cleansing the mirror of the mind of its distortions, called vrttis or thoughts, especially those born of passion and ignorance, which like a distorted lens skew the soul's vision. xx Meditation accomplishes this by the practice of undeviating concentration on a single object of focus. By such focus for an uninterrupted and prolonged time, all other fluctuations of the mind, which distort the natural lucidity of sattva, are neglected and thus quelled, especially when that practice is accompanied by vairagya, a rigorous cultivation of dispassion towards those impulses.

IV. Bhakti

So far we have discussed transformation based on individual effort. The path of bhakti adds the aspect of grace to our discussion, help beyond individual effort. Grace thus implies the conviction in a unique supremely potent and omniscient soul, a being with total power to direct the laws of nature and thus cleanse one's mind simply by grace. Bhakti as a process of transformation is thus the act of giving oneself to God in devotion and petitioning that grace. xxi

Patanjali Muni indirectly alludes to the path of grace in the Yoga Sutras. In the first chapter, he describes isvara pranidhana (surrender to the Lord) as an optional method of meditation and also outlines its main practice—chanting mantras such as aum, which are not only signifiers of the Lord, but non-different from Him and full of spiritual potency. In the chapter that follows, he outlines "surrender to the Lord" in a somewhat different context, as one of the six mandatory moral observances that are prerequisite for meditation. Also listed there are the different benefits of adhering to each of the six classic moral observances including samadhi, the benefit of perfectly practicing isvara pranidhana. Samadhi, full spiritual trance, is the goal of meditation. As "surrender to the Lord" is the lone moral observance paired with a spiritual result xxii, and also the only object of meditation that is an active transformative agent, it is also logically the inferred choice for meditation. xxiii Commenting on isvara pranidhana, Vyasa, the main commentator on the Yoga Sutras, directly confirms why "simply by the yogi's longing, God bestows His grace upon the yogi. When this happens the fruit's of samadhi becomes quickly available." xxiv

Bhakti as a process of transformation in relation to grace as described in the Yoga Sutras thus works something as follows:

By repetition of the Lord's names and thinking of their meaning, which is a call to surrender, devotion naturally arises in the heart. Imbued with devotion, the presence of the Lord is then naturally felt everywhere until thoughts of devotion pervade the mind. The Lord, in reciprocation, naturally bestows His grace upon such a devoted soul by awarding him or her samadhi, but without the same effort usually required to attain such a wholesome state. xxv

In this sense, the process of bhakti works through the transformation of the material mind as other processes do. Sri Caitanya, certainly one of the most prominent proponents of the Bhakti tradition, thus declares in the first verse of His seminal composition Siksastakam, "ceto darapana marjanam" –that chanting cleanses (marjanam) the mind (ceto), which is like a mirror (darpanam). In ways, this is a classical yogic description of attaining samadhi, where the material mind of the embodied soul regains its pure condition where the soul can be reflected on it without distortion, the stage before one transcends the corporeal sphere altogether.

Of course, how the mind recovers its pure condition on the path of bhakti, and how it does so in other processes, is also quite different. On the path of bhakti, real devotion, selfless devotion, is not just a mental or physical activity, but an expression of the soul. xxvi Thus unlike other paths, which work, so to speak, from the outside in, that is they deal directly with the transformation of mind as a way to achieve pure inner awareness, bhakti is the opposite. Bhakti is first a rousing of the soul with devotion that then purifies the mind. In other words, as consciousness flows through the sheaths of the conditioned soul to animate it, including the mind, when that consciousness is awakened to its true nature of selfless devotion, the mind is gradually transformed to more and more conducive states for higher realization. This transformation thus happens simultaneously as bhakti imbues the soul with devotion:

"Devotion, direct experience of the Supreme Lord, and detachment from other things—these three occur simultaneously for one who has taken shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the same way that pleasure, nourishment, and relief from hunger come simultaneously and increasingly, with each bite, for a person engaged in eating." (Bhag 11.1.42)

Obviously, the degree to which bhakti inspires the soul and transforms the mind depends on the purity of our practice and our level of devotion. Real transformative devotion is thus rag bhakti, where attachment (rag) to the Lord, not just obligation and duty, is the motivating force for our action.

Bhakti, action done with pure love for God, is thus a powerful transformative agent as it invokes grace, stirs the soul, and flows naturally away from egoism and exploitation, the core obstacles to yoga. In Bhagavad-gita it is thus deemed the best of transformative paths. xxvii

Summary

Yoga psychology gives a practical, workable, and holistic paradigm for transformation, which thoroughly explains the effect of one's nature, actions, environment and heartfelt devotion on the development of a healthy mind.

 


i. The prime source for my study of yoga psychology was the recently published "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" by Dr. Edwin Bryant, North Point Press, which is not only a translation of the Yoga Sutras, but is a translation and commentary on all the major commentators on the Yoga Sutras as well. I began this paper before the book was officially published, so I would like to personally thank Professor Bryant for sharing with me, in advance, some excerpts of his work. The author is not only an established academic, but a long time student and practitioner of yoga as well, which makes for an especially insightful and readable translation and commentary.

ii. Bhagavad-gita, 6.5

iii. Yoga Sutras 1.5

iv. Inherent in most systems of Indian yogic thought, and most methods of mental health, is the concept that distress lies not in reality, but in our perception of it,, and thus mentors by carefully freeing us from ignorance also make us more mentally healthy.

v. An example would be a young child who has bad experiences with his parents and thus develops a bad impression towards all authority and who then distrust all elders, even kinds ones.

vi. Problems of restoring mental health were also dealt with in the social structure, including family and priests. Extremely serious mental problems were also dealt with by certain types of tantrics.

vii. Bhagavad-gita, 14.1

viii. In Indian time there are 36 48-minute divisions called muhurtas. The brahma muhurta, the 48 minutes before sunrise, was considered the most conducive for spiritual life.

ix. Cleanliness is the object of sight in the mode of goodness and will naturally make one more peaceful and clear minded.

x. Yoga is generally considered part of the path of jnana.

xi. These four categories are my own divisions of action based on my study of the texts of the Indian yoga tradition.

xii. Specifically, sense data enters the mind through the manas, the function of thought dealing with the initial categorization of phenomena.

xiii. A samskara can also be a memory of an unpleasant experience, an attachment then to avoid a certain object that previously caused pain or discomfort.

xiv. For example, one can even be mistreated by another person and feel deep hate or even compassion for that person depending on how one's intelligence is trained to digest that particular encounter.

xv. Traditional Indian social structure was not the caste system fixed at birth, but one based on one's qualification. See Bhagavad-gita, 4.13

xvi. By karma one may be stuck in work that is not suitable for one's nature. Of course, one should seriously seek a change in employment, but if not possible, then one has to respond to one's work like one responds to any unpleasant karmic situation that is difficult to change, by humbly seeing God's hand to purify one of attachments.

xvii. There is a third choice for correct action, dedicating one's activities out of a natural devotion for God. This choice will be discussed separately in the section on Bhakti.

xviii. The two most popular books in Indian culture are the Mahabharat and Ramayana, which basically promote integrity.

xix. In the Yoga Sutras I.37 one recommendation for meditation is to meditate on one who is free from desire.

xx. Not all Yogic paths consider all thoughts material. Some also ascribe some thought and agency to the soul, although all schools agree that the fluctuations of the material mind (vrttis) ultimately need to be stilled.

xxi. On the path of bhakti there is deep discussion about the origin of grace, to what extent it can come from God and to what extent it must come from His devotee. That discussion is beyond the scope of this paper.

xxii. Except for isvara pranidhana, which is paired with samadhi, all other niyamas (moral observances) are paired with "prakrtic" or material benefits, such as understanding one's past lives and so on.

xxiii. A very strong case can be made from the Yoga Sutras that Pantanjali was a theist and that isvara pranidhana (surrender to the Lord) was his recommended object of meditation, even if still optional. See "Pantanjali's Theistic Preference", by Edwin Bryant, Journal of Vaisnava Studies Vol 14, No. 1/Fall 2008, p. 7

xxiv. "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" by Dr. Edwin Bryant, North Point Press, p.82

xxv. The practitioner of bhakti must still arduously practice meditation, but as his practice is a petitioning for the Lord's grace, the result can be attained much easier by grace.

xxvi. There are many verses cited in the Bhakti tradition from various scriptures describing how bhakti is beyond the senses and mind. For example, often quoted from the Padma Purana and cited in the Bhaktirasamrta-sindhu 1.2.34 is "atah sri krishna namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih/" –that the soul and God cannot be understood through the material senses.

xxvii. Bhagavad-gita, 6.47

 

Source : http://www.wavesofdevotion.com/2009/07/22/yoga-psychology/#more-1079


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