Shiva Nata: An ancient yogic system

Shiva Nata – The Dance of Shiva

Transitions from one Asana or Vinyasa to another one are accompanied with the movements of the arms or legs. In general terms, these movements are variations of Vinyasas, as they are synchronized with the breath. But these do not form any particular group of Vinyasas, which is a functional element of the «Universal Multilevel Vinyasa Algorithm», but they comprise parts of these Vinyasa groups used when transiting from one Asana or Vinyasa to another one.

Such arm and leg movements may be done with a number of similar options. For example, if standing upright, start to bend forward with the arms raised above the head and lower the hands onto the floor. During this move, there are a minimum of three optional ways of how the arms will move: forward and down, to the sides and down, and back and down.

In addition, there are a number of special breath exercises that are accompanied by similar movements of arms or legs. The arms are associated with the chest by means of muscles, and the legs are associated with the abdominal cavity, and both participate in the breathing process. This means that breathing characteristics largely depend on the trajectory and movement characteristics of the arms and legs in breathing exercises.

Unfortunately, in many Yoga schools with many progressive technical elements and methods, these movements are performed with extreme simplicity, primitively and without exaggeration. But at the same time these movements largely determine characteristics of energy flows in peripheral channels, it is still necessary to study the main dynamic principles of the limbs and their impact on breathing characteristics. That is why it is important to introduce the nature of such movements into the practice of Yoga, and to make conscious all the movements with arms and legs made during training. This increases the effectiveness of breathing exercises by using specifically selected movements with the arms and legs.

Analyzing a theoretical model of the moving arm or leg, attached to a tentatively immovable body, we can see that these movements may be performed in one, two or three planes. Single-measured movements are performed by «directly» extending an arm or a leg. Double-measured movements are performed by their “plane” ones. And triple-measured movements occur when performing «three-dimensional» spiral movements.

In this connection, there are three groups of limb movement: linear, plane and dimensional.

Theoretically, when performing purely linear or single plane movements, the elements of the skeleton are required to be driven by a single muscle or by several parallel muscles set in the same plane as the direction of the movement. But, since the human body is constructed so as to provide movements in different directions, the limb controlling muscles are attached to the elements of the skeleton at different angles. And observing the natural dynamics of the body, one can see that almost all of its movements are effected by the operation of muscle groups rather than by individual muscles. When a particular movement takes place, the load is completely or partially transferred from one muscle to another. This is accompanied by changes in the angle of the application of the driving effort. Therefore, natural movements can rarely be purely linear or single-plane (only within a short track). Most often these occur upon the abrupt relaxation of the muscles when a particular part of the body falls freely.

To make the technique of liner or single-plane movements more sophisticated and natural, they should be complemented with specific motions that make the movement three-dimensional. So for example, linear bending (unbending) of an arm (leg) may be effected in a «whip-like» way or be rotated around its axis. And in a single-plane radial movement of an arm (leg), it can be simultaneously rotated around its axis.

Compared to linear and single-plane movements, three-dimensional spiral movements have a number of benefits and positive qualities. Firstly, these are the most natural and balanced movements. Secondly, they are performed in three planes and their trajectory consists of both linear and radial motion moments, and subsequently, this implies the ability to perform and control these movements also. Thirdly, three-dimensional spiral movements cover almost all-possible positions «within the Marginal Mobility Circle» of the arms and the legs. This allows one to control this space and link any points inside this space between themselves. Fourthly, performing such spiral movements employs all muscle groups of the arms, legs, shoulder and hip girdle, which results in powerful and comprehensive strengthening effects during training.

Since movements with the limbs include overcoming gravitation, there is a relationship between the force lines of the Earth’s gravitational field and the «inner energy flows». According to the «action equals counteraction» rule, the upward movement of the limbs against the gravitational force relates to actively overcoming energy flows. Or it is possible to say that the active component of the gravitational force is transferred to the channels of the arms and legs. And on the contrary with moving the limbs down, on the gravitational force movement, the activity of energy flows decreases. For all that the activity of gravitational force carries out the work of falling down the limbs and a passive anti-flow is filled in the energetic channels of the arms and legs.

Continuous spiral movements consist of two complete counter-directional sine curves. Therefore, performing such movements sets a series of alternating active and passive fragments of the energy flow. These energy impulses purify energy channels and balance the circulation of energy inside them.

Synchronizing spiral movements of the limbs with the breath creates a constant and intensive energy consumption from the surrounding space, translation of it through psychic-energy structure channels, and accumulation and radiation into the surrounding space.

Such spiral motions were widely used in early Buddhist practices. Initially these were the elements of the Dance of Shiva, a Yogic art which develops conscious control, coordination and the potential abilities of the body, without specialized application in life.

Later, Boddhidharma exported them to Shaolin, and on the basis of these movements applied martial art techniques were developed with the use of one’s own body and various weapons: a sword, a pole, a spear, etc. These techniques became the perfect means for developing the functional abilities of the body, increasing the organism’s energy potential, the controling and coordinating several «sectors» of various body parts at the same time.

It should be noted that having a weapon in the hands promotes an increase of density energy flowing through arm channels, and more intensively develops the strength and endurance of the fighter. But there is another side of using weapons in training: it reduces the requirements to the twisting capability of the joints.

Therefore, the Far East schools of martial arts allowed practitioners to exercise with weapons only after many years of practicing base exercises without any weapons.

Some of these exercises have become widely known today, for example «rotation of cups filled with water» which should not be spilled during radial spiral movements. In the Ancient Dance of Shiva, however, such cups contained oil and wicks, which were burning throughout the dance. And in rotating the cups no oil should be spilled, and the fire should remain burning.

This dance, performed against the background of starry skies, made an inexplicable impression…

The Dance of Shiva uses sixteen principally different basic movements and sixteen positions for two arms. And this number may be neither larger nor smaller.

The helix always has a central axis around which the rotation is effected. When rotating a cup, its upper surface and the palm should always be in the horizontal position, whereas the spiral movements should be around the vertical axis. In this event, the rotation of the cups is done simultaneously, as if in two parallel horizontal planes, and are connected by diagonal fragments of the transition movements from one such plane to another. Therefore, such spiral movements are called «horizontal».

At the same time, such horizontal rotation of the cups consists of two continuous radial movements along spiral trajectories: ascending and descending. Performing such exercises results in the integration of the upper and lower horizontal subspaces.

There are several levels for the practical learning of these movements. But, at the very beginning, it should be noted that the difference between these levels is not in physical complexity. It is in the level of control and coordination, as well as in the ability to follow a preset program for a long period of time, without being distracted. Then, faultlessly changing from one movement to another, performing them with technical perfection. But on the physical level, the complexity of these movements has little difference.

Transition from one level to another requires knowing a greater number of various combinations of these simple movements and supplementing linking movements, which correspond to improved coordination of the arms and legs. And the ability to avoid being distracted for a long time, and faultlessly follow a preset program corresponds to the increased level of controlling various positions of the arms and legs within the «Boundaries of the Marginal Circle» of their mobility.

Mastering the first level is sufficient for introducing the nature of such movements in Asana, Vinyasa sequences and breath exercises. But the first level will not be sufficient for the purposes of special development of control and coordination. Therefore, two development levels in this direction are considered below.

When analyzing the Dance of Shiva, it is required to understand from the very beginning that the word dance is applied provisionally, based solely on the external features of this phenomenon. It is necessary to imagine what happens with the energy body in the surrounding space during the spiral movements with the hands and cups. First of all, a spiral is a three-dimensional sine curve. And, as it is known from physics the movement of the energy media, e. g., electrons, along a spiral conductor creates an electromagnetic field. In this event, the electromagnetic force acts along the central axis around which the spiral movement is effected. Similar phenomena occur in the space around the human body if a man performs spiral movements with his arms or legs. In terms of physic science, such movements are accompanied with a definite movement of the life energy through the channels of the arms and legs. There are respective forces operating along the central axis, around which such spiral movements are performed, which interact with the surrounding space. The pulsating change of the ascending and descending directions of such spiral movements, with the cups being continuously rotated, causes such forces to pulsate and reverse.

Gaining experience in controlling energy flows opens many abnormal abilities. But, despite the temptation of mastering them, it is important to always remember the main purpose of this practice.

Despite the powerful energy-related effects occurring during the Dance of Shiva, these movements cannot be directly compared with Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Zong Shin, Kung Fu and other martial arts of Chinese, Vietnamese or Japanese heritage. It is important to remember that in these techniques, the main accent is made on the development of the energetic results connected with the feeling of movement and the accumulation of Power, and on the development of the strategic and technical qualities of a fighter. But in the Dance of Shiva, the main accent is made on the development of the multi-sector control of the body’s controlling structures, the increases of the speed of the controlling processes, and the forms of the new algorithms of transcendental links in the consciousness. These new links increase the power and generation of the bio-processor.

Of course, these controlling processes may be developed for special purposes through various exercises without the participation of the physical body. For example, the development of mathematical thinking, playing chess games and modern computer games leads to such narrow and lopsided development, and for some people, this narrow and one side development will possibly suffice. But the Dance of Shiva, however, allows the preservation of harmony in the developing of the body and Spirit. Since the body’s physical abilities are more easily developed than the spiritual abilities, the tasks of conscious control in the Dance of Shiva are rather simple compared to the tasks which may be required in purely «conceptual» practices. But, at the same time, these tasks correspond to the real level of the instrument (the body). Here one will never face the situation when the Spirit is ready to fly but the weak body is not even able to crawl, because there is balance between the Sky and the Earth, between the evolution of the ideal and material.

Brain’s Waste Removal System More Active During Sleep

James' World 2

FROM

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Even our brains need to take out the trash.

Researchers from the University or Rochester Medical Center found that a waste-flushing system in the brain, called the glymphatic system, is most active when we sleep — nearly 10 times more so than during periods of wakefulness, in fact.

Plus, during sleep, brain cells shrink in size by 60 percent to better allow for the removal of waste from the brain.

“This study shows that the brain has different functional states when asleep and when awake,” study researcher Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., the co-director of the university’s Center for Translational Neuromedicine, said in a statement. “In fact, the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.”

The findings, which are published in the journal Science, are based on brain imaging…

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Vulnerability is Good : Accepting Vulnerability is Better

Recently, I see a lot of posts about vulnerability, mostly accepting it as a positive human construct. It is encouraging to feel this wave of perception that has risen and is relentlessly touching thousands of kindred souls.

Of course, my friends and fellow travelers! Vulnerability is an honest human construct. Fear, doubt, frustration, hurt, failure, depression, angst, anxiety, insecurity all are sensory responses to varied external stimuli.

I find movies a good place to quote or to draw parallels from. The iconic martial artists, actor and stunt man, Jackie Chan brought something fresh and new to the erstwhile martial art movies. His movies introduce vulnerability with impeccable comic timing. He made the  people, the viewers relate to the troubles of the protagonist.  The heroes also get hurt and why not, they are human beings, made up of flesh and bones. They are susceptible to emotions, circumstances, to the people in their lives. Of course a hero wins at last, but it is usually after he learns from his mistakes and learns to adapt.

We are conditioned, programmed to believe that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. A valid point, apparently. But what is weakness? Have we analyzed weakness enough to understand it. Or have we made a rapid connection to the word, and formed a thesaurus of words like bad, lack of strength, inability, inadequacy, imperfection and so on? What if we look closer, spend a little time with vulnerability? We begin to realize, hey, it is more a tendency, just like our tendency to laugh at jokes, or the tendency to feel bad. We are sentient beings, we are meant too feel. If we were not vulnerable, why would we feel hurt?

Vulnerability is the nature of the garb, this human body. Human beings are susceptible to change, vulnerable to the world around them. What is vulnerability, if not heightened sensitivity and awareness. It is this awareness that makes us such a wonderful species. Vulnerability to thought, emotions, stimuli, environment and practically everything perceivable and tangible. Accepting vulnerability brings us closer to our awareness. What do we find when we are past vulnerability, a rewarding revelation, that we are still here! We continue to be, so can this be a weakness then? How can anything be a weakness, isn’t it just strength in disguise.

Accepting vulnerability takes us to  something indomitable, invulnerable and imperishable viz. the human spirit.

Here are some choice posts that I enjoyed for their honesty

http://victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/vulnerability-the-birthplace-of-creativity-connection-and-authenticity/

http://tonningsen.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/reflections-on-self-belief/

http://atruthseekerspeaks.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/a-case-of-the-tomorrows-learning-to-live-in-the-now/

Diseases – Part 2

Continued from Diseases – Part 1

Sage Patanjali in his yoga sutra (1:30)  says:
vyâdhi-styâna-sanåaya-pramâdâlasyâvirati-bhrânti-daråanâlabdha-bhûmikatvânavasthitatvâni cittavikæepâste ‘ntarâyâï
vyâdhi = sickness
styâna = apathy
sanåaya = doubt
pramâda = carelessness
âlasya = laziness
avirati = sexual indulgence
bhrânti = false
daråana = vision, perspective
alabdha = failing to attain
bhûmikatva = developmental stages
anavasthitatvâni = inconstancy, instability
citta = consciousness
vikæepâï = distraction, stirring up
te = these
antarâyâï = obstacles

Sickness, apathy, doubt, carelessness, laziness, hedonism, delusion, lack of progress, and inconstancy are all distractions which, by stirring up consciousness, act as barriers to stillness. These are not isolated individual problems tampering the steadfast quality of the citta. Instead, these are all connected and evolve from one to another.

Prevention of disease and thereby distractions, is always better than their respective cures. For a cure, is a process of reverse engineering from analyzing the effect to reach and identify the cause. It is an overhead, it is time consuming, because the effect, may not be a benign one and would steadily or rapidly aggravate whilst the analysis is in progress. Or even if the effect is a benign one, it might not be an irreversible one. Even if it is irreversible, restoring the human body or mind to its original state needs time, this is time required in addition to the time already invested in reaching from the cause to the effect.

Systems like Yoga, pranayam, meditation and others are programmed for nipping the bud of distractions in their early stages. Simple body language techniques reveal,when we think about some event in the past, we tend to look downwards. We access the temporal lobe of the brain. The temporal lobes are involved in the retention of visual memories, processing sensory input, comprehending language, storing new memories, emotion, and deriving meaning.

Similarly a person who is thinking about the future, or the next step of action focuses upwards towards the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe is associated with reward, attention, short-term memory tasks, planning, and motivation.

Most yoga, meditation and mind control mechanisms are well aware of this natural tendency of the human mind. They are scientific approaches to preventing the mind from wandering and improving concentration.

Research in Ayurveda, goes deeper into analyzing the chemical composition of these lobes and regions of brain at the time of duress, distraction and depression; as well as the chemical composition of the brain in states of ecstasy, happiness, calm and meditation.  Certain Ayurvedic herbs are powerful anti-stress agents and also help induce a sense of well-being and calm.

Having said all that, the benefits of eating full timely meals, avoiding over indulgence, exercising and adequate rest should not be underestimated. They are almost necessary prerequisites for any further developments, physical or mental.

Nāda: The MicroCosmic and MacroCosmic Rhythm

Most of us can remember a fundamental concept taught to us in school when we learned of Molecular Motion, States of Matter and Gas Laws:

“All molecules are in constant motion. Molecules of a liquid have more freedom of movement than those in a solid. Molecules in a gas have the greatest degree of motion.”

We now know that even atoms and sub atomic particles are in constant motion. Everything from within the microcosm to the macrocosm is in perpetual motion. Incidentally, this concept has also been integral to the authoritative religious texts in Hinduism. Some intuitive findings of the ancient seers or Rishis, of India,  are based on the premise that the entire cosmos and all that exists in the cosmos, including human beings, consists of sound vibrations, called nāda. This concept holds that it is the sound energy in motion rather than of matter and particles which form the building blocks of the cosmos.

Dr. Robert E Svoboda maintains, in his article THE SOUNDLESS SUSURRATION OF THE KINDLY HEART ” Viewed from the perspective of creation, nada is “that which expresses,” the sound current from which manifestation occurs. From the perspective of dissolution, however, nada is the resonance that follows bindu, the last point that the experiencer holds to before relinquishing all sense of time and space. The transcendent bruit that is nada begins to reverberate through one’s self-awareness as soon as all differentiating thought disappears. Nataraja straddles the bindu fence between creation and destruction, everlastingly awash in the nada tide that He Himself engenders.

Nothing in the universe moves but Nataraja; all else that shifts position, form or condition does so solely through His whirl. Nataraja is the perfect embodiment of a Vedic formula for compressing Reality into words: satyam, rtam, brhat (“the true, the harmonious, the vast”). Reality exists (it displays truth, satyam), it has a natural order or rhythm (rtam) which is self-perpetuating and self-correcting (it is harmonious), and it is all-pervasive, extending beyond the farthest reaches of the human imagination (it is vast, brhat). Nataraja’s form expresses the solidification of resonance, the congealing of music and dance into form. The word ambara can also mean “garment,” and chid-ambaram thus also means “clad in consciousness,” in the same way that a naked sadhu is sometimes spoken of as being dig-ambara, “sky-clad, clothed in the ten directions.” Awareness covers the Lord of Dance, it surrounds Him as it emerges from Him. Alone at the center of the cosmos, He is the embodiment of the consciousness that gave the cosmos birth. Within the human microcosm Nataraja relentlessly dances a tarantella of blood and lymph at the heart-center, thumping out the rhythm of heartbeats endlessly disseminating oxygen and prana, the life force. Like the heart, which sits at the core of the chest, the center of any space or image, in or out of the body, should be relatively empty of matter but full of prana. Any central area is a “heart,” a chid-ambaram that should reflect and express ultimate nature, ultimate sound and rhythm by concentrating prana there. Prana, mind and breath all work together, in the internal and the external universe alike.”

The power (Hara) of the unmanifested absolute (Shiva), when manifested becomes the dynamic cosmic energy (Shakti), much like potential energy transforming into kinetic energy, from inertia to motion. The sound of this energy when “expressed” as Svoboda says, creates matter in various forms and size, ranging from atoms to galaxies to universes.

In the human form, the energy itself, first, manifests into thousands of ethereal energy channels or meridians (72,000) that carry the nada in and out of the body. It is my supposition, that these channels are thus called the naadis.

Inherent, within the nada, are laya and taala, the tempo and the beat. It is no wonder then why human beings are inherently perceptible to music at any age. Rhythmic vibrations, interspersed with silence, pattern within silence and silence within pattern. Space within matter and matter within space, matter that is nothing but energy bound in certain vibrations. We and the whole universe is nothing but these vibrations within and without.

 

God, Guru and Grace: Shri Ramana Maharshi

“Paul Brunton found that the Maharshi’s way of helping others was by an unobtrusive, silent and steady outpouring of healing vibrations into troubled souls, a mysterious telepathic process for which science will one day be required to account.”

All those who seriously ponder upon the question “Who am I?” have invariably heard of Shri Ramana Maharshi. The unassuming spiritual master, who propounded one of the most simplest theories of knowing the self. The method of self-enquiry.

“He simply puts forward a way of self-analysis, which can be practised irrespective of any ancient or modern theories and beliefs which one may hold, a way that will finally lead man to true self-understanding.” – says an ardent follower.

Here is a conversation between Ramana and a seeker, where Ramana establishes that God, Guru and Grace are one and the same thing, They are all the single quintessence found dwelling deep within the seeker’s own heart.


Grace

D.: Is not Grace the gift of the Guru?

M.: God, Grace and Guru are all synonymous and also eternal and immanent. Is not the Self already within? Is it for the Guru to bestow It by his look? If a Guru thinks so, he does not deserve the name.

The books say that there are so many kinds of initiations – by hand, by touch, by eyes and by mind. They also say that the Guru makes some rites with fire, water, japa, mantras, etc., and call such fantastic performances Initiation, as if the disciple becomes ripe only after such processes are gone through by the Guru.

If the individual is sought he is nowhere to be found. Such is the Guru. Such is Dakshinamurti. What did he do? He was silent; the disciples appeared before him. He maintained silence; the doubts of the disciples were dispelled, which means that they lost their individual identities. That is wisdom  and not all the verbiage usually associated with it.

Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the scripttures may be, they fail in their effect. The Guru is quiet and peace prevails in all. His silence is vaster and more emphatic than all the scriptures put together. These questions arise because of the feeling, that having been here so long, heard so much, exerted so hard, one has not gained anything. The work proceeding within is not apparent. In fact the Guru is always within you.

D.: Does Bhagavan give initiation?

M.: Silence is the best and the most potent Initiation. That was practiced by Sri Dakshinamurti. Touch, look, etc., are all of a lower order. Silence changes the hearts of all. There is no Guru and no disciple. The ignorant confounds his body with the Self and so he takes the other’s body for the Guru. But does the Guru think his body to be the Self? He has transcended the body. There are no differences for Him. So the ignorant cannot appreciate the standpoint of Guru and of disciple.

D.: Vivekananda has also said that silence is the loudest form of prayer.

M.: It is so, for the seeker’s silence Guru’s silence is the loudest instruction. It is also Grace in its highest form. All other initiations, e.g., touch, look are derived from silence. They are therefore secondary. Silence is the primary form. If the Guru is silent the seeker’s mind gets purified by itself.

Later, a passage from the Yoga Vasishtha was read out before Sri Bhagavan, indicating initiation by look and initiation by touch.

Sri Bhagavan observed: Dakshinamurti observed silence when the disciples approached Him. That is the highest form of initiation. It includes the other forms. There must be subject-object relationship established in the other initiation. First the subject must emanate and then the object. Unless these two are there how is the one to look at the other or touch him? Initiation by silence is the most perfect; it comprises looking, touching and teaching. It will purify the individual in every way and establish him in the Reality.

D: “Can anyone get any benefit by repeating sacred syllables (mantras) picked up casually?

M.: “No. He must be competent and initiated in such mantras.” Maharshi illustrated this by the following story: A King visited his Premier in his residence. There he was told that the Premier was engaged in repetition of sacred syllables. The King waited for him and, on meeting him, asked what the words were. The Premier said that it was the holiest of all, Gayatri. The King desired to be initiated by the Premier. But the Premier confessed his inability to initiate him. Therefore the King learned it from someone else, and meeting the Minister later he repeated the Gayatri and wanted to know if it was right. The Minister said that the mantra was correct, but it was not proper for him to say it. When pressed for an explanation, the Minister called to a page close by and ordered him to take hold of the King. The order was not obeyed. The order was often repeated, and still not obeyed. The King flew into a rage and ordered the same man to hold the Minister, and it was immediately done. The Minister laughed and said that the incident was the explanation required by the King. “How?” asked the King. The Minister replied, “The order was the same and the executor also, but the authority was different. When I ordered, the effect was nil, whereas, when you ordered, there was immediate effect. Similarly with mantras.”

Mr. MacIver had an interview with Sri Bhagavan and spoke about initiation.

Sri Bhagavan asked: What is this initiation? After a pause, He continued, “Initiation is of various kinds, by word, by sight, by touch and so forth.”

D.: Bhagavan’s is silent initiation, is it not?

M.: Yes, this the highest form of initiation.

D.: Is it applicable to the path of enquiry only?

M.: All the different paths are included in the path of enquiry.

After a pause Sri Bhagavan spoke to the effect that people who come here are brought by some mysterious Power which will look to their needs. The conversation practically ended with this.

D. How is the Guru found?

M. God, who is immanent, in His grace takes pity on the loving devotee and manifests Himself according to the devotee’s development. The devotee thinks that He is a man and expects a relationship as between two physical bodies. But the Guru, who is God or the Self incarnate, works from within, helps the man to see the error of his ways and guides him in the right path until he realizes the Self within.

D. What should the devotee do then?

M. He has only to act up to the words of the Master and work within. The Master is both ‘within’ and ‘without’, so He creates conditions to drive you inward and at the same time prepares the ‘interior’ to drag you to the Centre. Thus He gives a push from ‘without’ and exerts a pull from ‘within’, so that you may be fixed at the Centre.

D. What is guru’s grace? How does it lead to Self-realization?

M. Guru is the Self…. Sometimes in his life a man becomes dissatisfied with it, and, not content with what he has, he seeks the satisfaction of his desires, through prayer to God etc. His mind is gradually purified until he longs to know God, more to obtain His grace than to satisfy his worldly desires. Then, God’s grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a guru and appears to the devotee, teaches him the Truth and, moreover, purifies his mind by association. The devotee’s mind gains strength and is then able to turn inward. By meditation it is further purified and it remains still without the least ripple. That calm expanse is the Self.

The Guru is both ‘external’ and ‘internal’. From the ‘exterior’ he gives a push to the mind to turn inward; from the ‘interior’ He pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in the quieting of the mind. That is guru’s grace. There is no difference between God, Guru and the Self.

You think that the world can be conquered by your own efforts. When you are frustrated externally and are driven inwards, you feel ‘Oh! There is a Power higher than man!’

The ego is like a very powerful elephant which cannot be brought under control by any less powerful than a lion, which, in this instance, is no other than the Guru, Whose very look makes the elephant-like ego tremble and die.

You will know in due course that your glory lies where you cease to exist. In order to gain that State, you should surrender yourself. Then the Master sees that you are in a fit state to receive guidance, and He guides you.

D. How can I obtain Grace?

M. Grace is the Self. That also is not to be acquired: you only need to know that it exists.

The sun is brightness only. It does not see darkness. Yet you speak of darkness fleeing on the sun’s approach. So also the devotee’s ignorance, like the phantom of darkness vanishes at the look of the Guru. You are surrounded by sunlight; yet if you would see the sun, you must turn in its direction and look at it. So also Grace is found by the proper approach you make, though it is here and now.

D. Cannot Grace hasten ripeness in the seeker?

M. Leave it all to the Master. Surrender to Him without reserve.

One of two things must be done : either surrender yourself, because you realize your inability and need a higher power to help you; or investigate into the cause of misery, go into the Source and so merge in the Self. Either way, you will be free from misery. God or Guru never forsakes the devotee who has surrendered himself.

The main type of instruction given by Ramana Maharshi was silence, as it was with Dakshinamurthy of old. Divine bliss permeated those who sat around him. In this silence the doubts of his devotees were cleared and their questions were either answered or faded away, ceasing to exist. This silence was, and is, a dynamic force, eternal and universal in nature.


The Sound of One Hand Clapping

The Zen koan of the sound of one hand clap, by Hakuin Ekaku is very simple to understand. In fact it is so integral to our existence that it has been there all along, but we have never bothered to really listen.

Ofcourse it is something to be experienced, and one cannot be articulate enough to describe it in its entirety, and all that. Let us assume that we all know how to clap and we all more or less can relate to the sound of two hands clapping.

Let us come back to it later. Now, haven’t we all been deeply involved in listening to a song that we like.So deeply involved that we could not possibly think of the world, not even ourselves?

Now what if I got as deeply engrossed as that, say, when I am listening to the sound of my teeth chewing food, or water falling on my head during a bath, or my fingers touching the keyboard while I type this post, or the listening to the sound of my breath leave my nostrils. What if I was deeply engrossed every time I sense using my eyes, hands, ears, mouth and nose, so much so that I suddenly realize, that these are not really five different senses, its just one sense. A deeper faculty of observation that employs the bodies organs to feel or sense.

What if I suddenly realize, that it is my nature to observe. Further, when I am deeply engrossed in the observation there is nothing else but the observation. When I am listening to the music, there is only the music. There is no me. I am also the music. The listener and the listened are one. The observer and the observed are one. There are no two hands, there is just one hand.

In effect, when the hands are folded and palms touch each other, without making a sound, it is also a prayer. The highest form of prayer is absolute silence. Silence of thoughts.