Teachings of Swami Rama
as compiled by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
Table of Contents
Mindfulness and Attention
Mantra and Silence
Introspection and Witnessing
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
“I have been facing a serious difficulty: either I meet material scientists or I meet religionists and philosophers, but no aspirants who are prepared to evaluate and verify the effects of these [yoga] practices. I hope that one day this science will be popular and available for the true seekers in modern society….Very few understand that yoga science is complete in itself, and deals systematically with body, breath, mind, and spirit. When one understands that a human being is not only a physical being, but a breathing being and a thinking being too, then his research does not limit itself to the body and breath only. For him, gaining control over the mind and its modifications, and the feelings and emotions, become more important than practicing a few postures or breathing exercises. Meditation and contemplation alone can help the aspirant in understanding, controlling, and directing the mind.”
“Disappointingly, I find these days that aspirants do not seem to aspire to lead a balanced life. They search for perfection in the external world, ignoring human potentials and internal states. There is no coherence or harmony, and thus in our society today, leaders and intelligentsia seem drawn to building hospitals and research centers to cure diseases that actually are born because of our ignorance, sloth, and lack of awareness. When you become aware that human resources in the interior self are immense, and try to probe into the subtler realms within, you will come across unbelievable phenomena. These are actually not alien but are your own potential, buried deeply in the unconscious.”
“We must not create a wall between our worldly and spiritual lives. People disorganized in their worldly life search for spiritual wisdom in seclusion; whereas, if organized properly, they can have all the means and resources that are of utmost importance for spiritual enlightenment. The purpose of human life is to make the best use of the resources that nature or God has given us. There are typically two kinds of people. Some are involved in the world and are busy in their self-centered activities. Others renounce their families and do not participate in worldly life at all. There are very few people who use discrimination, work hard for their self-fulfillment, and at the same time, contribute to the welfare of society. People belonging to these two categories have an incomplete world view, and therefore, strive for their limited goals.
“In our modern age, where the standard of living has been facilitated by science and technology, we must learn to make the best use of our ample resources. A lifestyle that is suitable for both worldly fulfillment and spiritual enlightenment is the best. Those who strive to attain personal enlightenment and help others light their lamps are the true leaders of the human race. Blessed are those who are useful for themselves as well as others. They attain the highest goal of life here and now. Right in this mortal world, they become immortal and their wisdom guides humanity on the path of immortality.
“Today’s society is waiting for selfless, spiritually enlightened, well-balanced leaders to guide them in how to live happily here and hereafter. Such leaders or reformers will not come from outside our society. They have to be born, raised, and trained right in our own society. We are the ones to become our own guides, our own leaders, and we are the ones to enlighten our own lives. Get up, my friends, arise: attain knowledge, and dedicate your life to the service of your fellow beings.”
Mindfulness and Attention
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
To take the inner voyage requires preparation. To become fully prepared for this inner voyage requires attaining purity of mind. Attaining this purity of mind involves two things: 1) awareness of one’s thoughts and 2) discrimination between thoughts.
To achieve purity of mind, one should cultivate constant awareness by being mindful all the time. One should remain always aware of one’s thoughts. To purify the buddhi, or the faculty of discrimination, is the most important task. This means one should learn to discriminate between pure and impure thoughts, and between helpful and disturbing thoughts.
When one is able to do these two things (learning to remain aware of one’s thoughts and learning to discriminate between thoughts), the result is that he develops the sense of determination and strengthens his will.
A student knows that impure and disturbing thoughts lead to greater bondage and create obstacles. When the faculty of discrimination is sharpened the student is then able to strengthen those thoughts which are pure and helpful. Thus, he does not allow the seeds of impure or disturbing thoughts to grow within. In this way, one can cultivate with all sincerity and perseverance, purity in thought, action, and speech. This purity of mind as called “saucha,” and is the first of the “yamas.”
The sayings of the great sages do inspire and support the student in the pursuit of his practices. But studying one’s own thoughts, emotions, deeds, and actions is the real study. Mere study of the scriptures is the sort of information that is really not knowledge, but only a part of knowing. We intellectually know many things, yet our ignorance is not dispelled. By self-study, or studying within and without, we experience directly that which dispels the darkness of avidya, or ignorance. Only when one has carefully learned the study of his own internal states will the true knowledge of the Self begin to dawn. This deeper study of one’s own internal states is called “svadhyaya,” and is the fourth of the “niyamas.”
You must pay careful attention. Sometimes teachers do not go very far in their instruction because they see that you are not really paying attention. If you want to be successful in your life, learn to train your attention. Attention is the key point that leads you to concentration, then to meditation, and then to samadhi. But, basically, this process begins with attention. To attend to one thing at a time and not allow any intruding thoughts is a skill one should learn. Along with the development of attention, a second quality is the ability to make mistakes without condemning yourself. Determine that no matter what happens, no matter how many times you stumble, it does not matter. If you have not crawled, you cannot walk; if you have not stumbled, you cannot stand.
Don’t impose discipline on yourself—“from tomorrow I will not lie, from tomorrow I will not take meat”—don’t create such problems for yourself. Be gentle with yourself, because gentleness alone is strength. Discipline means, “I will use all of my instruments according to my capacity.” It means, “I should learn to pay attention without any dissipation, distraction, and distortion. Anything I do, I will do with full attention.”
There are four distinct functions of mind: manas, buddhi, ahamkara, and chitta. These four functions of mind and their functioning should be coordinated. To establish coordination among the various modifications of mind, one has to learn to watch the mind’s functioning through actions and speech, and at the same time, observe the thinking process within. Ignorance is the mother of all diseases, discomforts, pains, and miseries. A purified, quiet, and serene mind is positive and healthy. The process of meditation helps the mind to remain a useful and constructive instrument.
The first real step of development in life is to know yourself. But how do you know yourself? You are a physical being, but knowing this level is not enough for you to understand yourself fully. You are also a breathing being, a sensing being, and a thinking being. All this takes place because you are that center of consciousness within, from where consciousness flows on various degrees and grades. This path, this journey, is a journey within. You are trying to explore who you are, so that you can function well in your life, understand your habit patterns, and learn to live happily in the world. To learn that, you need to study your own self on three levels: action, speech, and mind. Any discipline you learn is meant to help you improve on these three dimensions—action, speech, and mind.
If I move my hand and make certain gestures as I speak, what prompts me to do that? Most of our gestures are actually unconscious. The body has a particular language of its own, which we call “body language.” The body creates such gestures and movements because all its actions are governed and controlled by the thoughts. Any movement means that some thought that exists in the mind is being expressed. This is an important point: your actions are controlled by, and are the result of, your thoughts, both conscious and unconscious. You should understand your mind and its modifications on deeper levels by observing and analyzing your body language and behavior, and then seek to understand why your body moves or reacts in a particular way. Your gestures are totally influenced by your thought processes.
It is very easy to find out something about a person by watching his actions—how he moves, how he talks, how he looks at others, how he smiles, how he cries, how he eats, how he sits, and how he makes certain gestures. One can discover a great deal about inner life by studying body language.
What is knowledge and what is ignorance? Although we talk much about darkness, it does not actually exist; there is no darkness. Darkness means lack of light, but is this lack of light real? Go to the sun and ask if it has ever seen the darkness. The sun will say that there is no such thing. There is also no such thing as ignorance, for ignorance means lack of knowledge, lack of awareness. But if you are constantly aware, you are not ignorant. Constantly being aware of the Reality means knowledge of the Reality—and if you are constantly aware of the Reality you will never be afraid. To be aware of the Reality first comes discipline—learning to be fully attentive so that you perceive things properly.
In order to make progress in any aspect of life, it is essential to develop your willpower and your personal strength. If you sincerely want to develop personal strength and willpower, you should first learn to keep yourself open and be an observer of yourself until you observe that your willpower has become dynamic. Instead of making dramatic resolutions, simply make yourself open to observing yourself and decide to experiment in observing yourself.
The root of the word “meditation” is similar to the root word for “medical” or “medicate,” and the root of all these words implies “attending to” or “paying attention to” something. In meditation, you pay attention to dimensions of yourself that are seldom observed or known—that is, your own deepest, inner levels. Meditation involves a type of “inner attention” that is quiet, concentrated, and at the same time, relaxed.
Most people understand only one part of meditation. In meditation, you sit down quietly and repeat your mantra. During that period of meditation your mind remains one-pointed, but after that, your mind goes back to its same previous grooves. This is not the full process of meditation; the full process of meditation is a whole life process. “Meditation” means “to attend.” It means attention to the whole of life. It should not be a strenuous act; it should not be forced. Your whole life can be one of meditation. From morning until evening you can meditate, either consciously or unconsciously, and if you do that meditation well, it will bring many benefits.
Just as profound knowledge of what to do is essential, so having a one-pointed mind is equally essential. The modern student tends to know intellectually but does not make sincere effort to develop one-pointedness of mind. Thus his mind remains scattered and all his actions result in disappointment. He does not understand that it is his scattered mind that is creating barriers for him. He thinks the barriers are outside. The key point of practice as well as of success lies in one-pointedness of mind. When the conscious mind has been calmed we learn to integrate all the parts of the mind and to bring them to a single point of concentration. This is known as making the mind one-pointed.
Attention is the first step on the ladder to develop one-pointedness of mind. One must pay wholehearted attention to all of the things he does from morning until evening. The aspirant should also understand why he is acting in a particular way. Actions should not be performed as a reaction without understanding why one does them. The mind is prone to be reactionary if not trained, and an untrained mind creates disorder, disease, and confusion. If one does something with full attention, he will increase his awareness and ability to perform his duty. If one forms the habit of attending fully to whatever he is doing, the mind will become trained, and eventually concentration will become effortless.
Mantra and Silence
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
Sounds themselves merely vibrate and actually have no literal meaning. Mantras operate at a level deeper than its meaning in words; a mantra has its effect because of its qualities of sound and vibration. Imagine that you are standing on the bank of a river and you hear the current as it flows. If you follow the river upstream, you will come to its origin. There, you will find that there is no sound. In the same way, a mantra leads the mind to the silence within. That state is called “soundless sound.”
The seven sounds, or mantras, of the chakras, if magnified, create a form. Each mantra will make a different form. But magnifying sound in the external world is not going to help you. You have to go to the source within, from which that sound comes. This form gives you a knowledge of the sound, and the sound gives you a knowledge of the silence from which all sounds come. You have to learn to go to the silence, both physically and mentally.
There is a science deeper than the science of chakras, though it is not explained in any manual, It is what the gurus impart to their disciples, not through books or words, but only through silence. Gurus impart the best of their knowledge in silence. When you are in silence, they communicate with you through silence, and in silence. For the student whose mind is in tune, that teaching is the finest of teachings. This silent communication can happen no matter where you are physically, whether you are 10,000 miles away or very close.
It is not due to the meaning of the words that the mantra has its impact. It is the effect of the sound that helps the mind to become still and eventually go beyond sound, to experience the silence within. Sounds arise from silence. For example, the sound created at the root chakra is “lam.” Now, “lam” is, itself, a magnified sound. It arises from silence. When the potential energy of that silence becomes manifested at the root center, it forms the bija mantra “lam.” Knowing that sound in this magnified form does not really help you. If you want to go to the subtler aspect of the mantra, then you, like the sages, must go to the state of silence. From the silence flow all the rivers that create the great nada, and the ocean makes great sound and motion. This motion is going and coming, like a wave comes and goes. There, in silence, you will find out what the mantra really means. Out of silence comes sound, and out of sound comes form.
A mantra has four bodies, sheaths, or koshas. First, as a word, it has a meaning; another more subtle form is its feeling; still more subtle is a deep intense and constant awareness or presence, and the fourth or most subtle level of the mantra is soundless sound. Many students continue repeating or muttering their mantra throughout life, but they never attain a state of ajapa japa—that state of constant awareness without any effort. Such a student strengthens his awareness, but meditates on the gross level only. The mantras that are used for meditation in silence are special sets of sounds that do not obstruct and disturb the flow of breath, but help regulate the breath and lead to sushumna awakening, in which the breath flows through both nostrils equally. This creates a joyous state of mind and the mind is voluntarily disconnected from the senses. Then, the student has to deal with the thoughts coming forward from the unconscious. The conscious mind has the habit of recalling memories from the deep levels of the unconscious mind. The mantra helps one to go beyond this process. Mantra creates a new groove in the mind and the mind then begins to spontaneously flow into the groove created by mantra. When the mind becomes concentrated, one-pointed, and inward, it peers into the latent part of the unconscious and there, sooner or later, finds a glittering light.
The only time our minds usually become somewhat still is in deep, dreamless sleep. The rest of the time the mind tends to drift like a boat without an anchor. One of the goals of mantra is to quiet the mind by giving it one focus of attention. This concentration does not imply effort, tension or mental strain—it simply means “focused attention.” This focused attention is in contrast to a scattered, distracted state of mind. It is an alert, yet relaxed focus of attention, and if you are relaxed and comfortable, this should not be difficult.
The mantra should not be repeated without understanding its meaning. Before repeating the mantra, the student should be fully convinced of its importance. It should be repeated with meaning and feeling. Parrot-like repetition is not of much use. Repeating the mantra merely with the rosary and the tongue is a very inferior practice. It won’t do merely to complete a given count. The purpose of japa, or repetition of the mantra is to lead the mind to the higher dimensions and to rungs of meditation. Eventually, the mantra becomes a part and parcel of life which infuses awareness at all times. The meaning and spirit of the mantra should so intertwine with every in-coming and out-going breath, that in whatever circumstances the aspirant might be, he or she is always conscious of it. As the mind grows one-pointed by thus uttering the mantra and concentrating on it, interest in sadhana deepens. When japa is thus carried on in the midst of worldly activities, it is called meditation in action.
The mind often has thoughts and feelings which seem to “pop up” in our minds. In meditation, one should focus attention on the mantra, and allow the mental noise to still itself. However, sometimes when other thoughts come to mind, your awareness will actually shift to those other issues. When this occurs, you should allow yourself to witness or observe the thoughts and associations in your mind, and gently bring your awareness back to the mantra. It is important to not create a tug-of-war about this process, engage in mental arguments, or become angry or judgmental with ourselves about these mental distractions. Thoughts will continue to arise, but most will dissipate if you witness them in a neutral way, without creating an internal conflict.
Swami Rama writes of his own thoughts and use of mantra: “When…questions that are pending in my mind come to me, I say to them, ‘Okay, come.’ What you do, when such thoughts come, is try to think of your mantra. This means that you try to use your mantra to avoid and escape from certain situations. Then, when you have done your mantra for a while, your mind again goes back to the same worry. That is not helpful; instead, let everything come before you for a decision—just watch.”
Swami Rama goes on to say, “In my practice, when all the thoughts have gone through the mind, then I sit down and start to remember my mantra. Usually you try to remember your mantra from the very beginning, and there are those thoughts waiting for your consultation, but you do not pay attention to them. Then, the thoughts are coming and going in your mind and you are trying to repeat your mantra, and the more the thoughts come, the more you repeat your mantra, and the result is an internal battle. That is not helpful; you do not need that.
He also writes, “My way of using the mantra is different from yours, because I do not want to fool around with the process. I sit down, and I observe my whole being listening to the mantra. I do not remember the mantra or repeat the mantra mentally, because then the mind repeats many things. Instead I make my whole being an ear to hear the mantra, and the mantra is coming from everywhere. This will not happen to you immediately in meditation, but when you have attained or accomplished something, then this will happen to you. Then, even if you do not want to do your mantra, it is not possible to avoid it. Even if you decide that you do not want to remember the mantra, it will not be possible. Finally, even the mantra does not exist; only the purpose for which you repeat the mantra is there; you are There. The mantra might still be there, but it exists as an experience that overwhelms your whole being, and is not separate from you.”
In the process of meditation we must learn to explore our minds so that the mantra may be used effectively. The first stage of meditation is to clear the mind. It is essential to observe the thinking process and witness the contents of our minds. Thoughts will appear and disappear, but always learn to be a witness. Do not identify with thoughts, images and symbols. In this way we will learn which of our thinking processes are helpful and which are harmful. Always recall that our train of thoughts is our own product; it is our own direct creation and that is why it affects us. It is at this point in meditation training that a mantra becomes invaluable. The mantra is like a seed, and we are like the soil. The mantra needs time to grow. The mantra must be nourished. Persevere in repeating it mentally and silently within and slowly a new object will grow and come to occupy the mind. Eventually instead of watching our thoughts we will begin to watch ourselves repeating our mantra.
Above all else, remember this one thing: it is easy to meet that Infinity within—to attain this awareness, you just have to be silent and quiet. When you calm your mind and make it one-pointed, it can penetrate those fields of the mind that are not ordinarily penetrated by human beings, and then you will perceive the Reality within. Remember, you go to the silence, you go to the silence, you go to the silence.
You are busy listening to mere sounds that are useless or meaningless, and which have adverse effects on your mind. Learn to put yourself into silence. Your normal habit, your training, and your education is to go to the ocean of the external world and become lost in the sounds. Learn instead to go back to the Source of silence; this is the method of meditation, the inward journey.
In the Kathopanishad, the King of Death describes the process by which the aspirant can realize the true Self. He says, “Merge the words into thoughts.” By words he means the power of speech. The words that are uttered by us are the expressions of our thoughts. No word is uttered without a thought behind it. In fact, words and thoughts are one and the same, but thoughts are finer and subtler, while words are gross.
Swami Rama writes that when he used to sing, compose a poem, or paint, his master objected. He advised him to avoid such diversions and to practice silence. He would say, “The voice of silence is supreme. It is beyond all levels of consciousness and all methods of communication. Learn to listen to the voice of silence. Rather than discussing scriptures and arguing with sages, just enjoy their presence. You are on a journey; don’t stop for long at one place and get attached to anything. Silence will give you what the world can never give you.”
Sometimes a great teacher teaches his students through silence. The best and deepest of the teachings is not communicated through books, speech or actions, but through silence. That special teaching is understood only when you are silent. The language of that silence sometimes comes to you and that is called sandhya bhava, the emotion of joy and equilibrium. Sandhya is the wedding between the day and night, the time when the day weds night, and night weds day. A teacher may ask a student, “Have you done your sandhya,” which means, “Have you united all this and attained a state of equilibrium and joy before you meditate? Have you studied the behavior of your breath?”
Mantra leads you not to the external world, but to the source of silence. The mantra leads your mind to the state of silence. Mind does not want to go into silence—it has many desires to fulfill. When you create a new groove, the mind stops flowing into the past grooves and starts flowing in the new grooves that you have consciously created. These new grooves lead you to silence. Your aim in meditation is to go into the silence from where wisdom flows with all its majesty. Meditation is a good thing to do; it is a great solace.
When your mind starts going inside you will hear millions of types of sounds. All sounds originate from silence. A moment of real silence is enough for one year. Swami Rama says of silence, “If someone offers me one year’s pleasures or one moment of absolute silence, I will take one moment of silence, and you can keep my year of pleasure. If you put yourself into absolute silence, you will understand whatever you want.”
The final step of meditation is to remain in silence. This silence cannot be described; it is inexplicable. This silence opens the door of intuitive knowledge, and then the past, present, and future are revealed to the student. Beyond body, breath, and mind lies this silence. From Silence emanate peace, happiness, and bliss. The meditator makes that silence his or her personal abode; that is the final goal of meditation.
If you do your practice, it is not possible that you will fail to make progress, although you often do not see the subtle progress at deeper levels. The gurus impart the best of their knowledge, the heart of their teachings, in silence. And when you are in silence within, they communicate with you at that level. Do your practices if you want to make progress.
The teacher in the external world has his responsibility. That responsibility is over when he leads his student to the path of silence, from which everyone receives knowledge.
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
According to the yogic scriptures, there are 72,000 nadis, or energy channels. Among them, ida, pingala, and sushumna are the most important. As long as the mind is outward, only ida and pingala remain active. But when the mind is calm and tranquil, sushumna, the central channel, is awakened. The joy derived from the mind traveling through the sushumna channel is unique; it cannot be compared with any sensory pleasure. Because of that inner joy, the mind loses its taste for worldly pleasures. Sushumna application is the most important factor in spiritual practice. The moment sushumna is awakened, the mind longs to enter the inner world. When the flow of ida and pingala is directed toward sushumna, and distractions are thereby removed, meditation flows by itself.
According to our school of meditation breath awareness is an important step for the awakening of sushumna. Although the word sushumna cannot be adequately translated into English, it signifies the state of an undisturbed and joyous mind. When the breath starts flowing freely and smoothly through both nostrils, the mind attains this state of joy and calmness. Such a mental condition is necessary for the mind to travel into deeper levels of consciousness, for if the mind is not brought to a state of joy it cannot remain steady, and an unsteady mind is not fit for meditation. The process of awakening the sushumna is possible only when a student starts enjoying being still by keeping the head, neck, and trunk straight. This means that the student does not allow any uneasiness to occur in the three cords along the spinal column—the central, sympathetic, and parasympathetic ganglionated cords.
The sushumna nadi is centrally located and travels along the spinal canal. At the level of the larynx it divides into an anterior portion and a posterior portion, both of which terminate in the brahmarandra, or cavity of Brahma, which corresponds to the ventricular cavity in the physical body. The ida and pingala nadis also travel upwards along the spinal column, but they crisscross each other and the sushumna before terminating in the left and right nostrils, respectively. The junctions of ida, pingala, and sushumna along the spinal column are called chakras, or wheels, and just as the spokes of a wheel radiate outward from the central hub, so do the other nadis radiate outward from the chakras to other parts of the body. In other words, the chakras are junctions of other nadis with the three main nadis: sushumna, ida and pingala.
Ida and pingala, situated on each side of the spinal column, are joined at a point opposite the forehead, between the eyebrows at the ajna chakra, where one finds a small but significant ganglion called the ganglion of Ribes. Ida goes around this ganglion to the right and terminates in the left nostril. Pingala goes around it on the left side and ends in the right nostril. In passing along the posterior side of the spinal cord, these two channels change their positions several times, alternating left and right, and meet again below at the ganglion impar located in front of the coccyx which corresponds to the muladhara chakra. These channels communicate repeatedly with sushumna throughout its course.
There are only two or three techniques for applying sushumna: 1) concentrating on the bridge between the two nostrils, 2) doing pranayama breathing practices and applying jalandhara bandha (the chin lock) and 3) meditating on the chakra system. Breathing practices to awaken sushumna may include nadi shodhanam and kumbhaka. Also, use of mantra helps to awaken sushumna.
It should be understood that sushumna application is the only methodical way of preventing the dissipation of the mind. When sushumna flows, the occasion is unsuitable for external actions, and only meditation and contemplation should be done. When the breath is in sushumna, intuitive knowledge is received well.
The application of sushumna is very important: without it, deep meditation is not possible, and without deep meditation, samadhi cannot be accomplished. To apply sushumna, the accomplished yogis concentrate on the bridge between the two nostrils above the lip and allow both nostrils to flow freely. Such advanced yogis do not use any external pressures on any part of the body to change the flow of breath. The aspirant who has learned the correct method of meditation and who has control over the wandering of his mind can easily apply sushumna willfully through concentration on the flow of breath, and can attain the deepest state of meditation—samadhi. At this stage, such aspirants no longer need to use the fingers. The knowledge of turiya is easily accessible by applying sushumna. Sushumna application and the awakening of kundalini are two main aims of yoga science. Without knowing the method of awakening sushumna the joy of meditation cannot be experienced. Pranayama is important in gaining control over the mind, and the application of sushumna is important for deepening meditation.
The first step in sushumna application is learning to change the flow of breath with your mental ability, according to your wish and desire. There are many mechanical methods described in books by which you can do this, but they are not actually helpful; they are not really recommended. To really accomplish this process, you must learn to create a relaxed focus on the right or left nostril. If the nostril is blocked, but not due to some condition like sinusitis, then when the mind focuses on it, that nostril will become active because of the focus of the mind. When you have learned to change the flow of the nostrils with your mind, then after some time, a time comes when both nostrils begin flowing evenly. This may take some months or perhaps a year, depending on your capacity and the burning desire within you. When the nostrils flow evenly, the mind cannot worry, because it is disconnected from the senses. Mind does not know how to worry then. It attains a state of joy called sukhamana, the joyous mind. That state of mind is conducive to deep meditation. This is an accurate and effective procedure for you to follow, and it is important not to rush or be impatient.
To begin the process of sushumna awakening, the meditator is prepared to focus the mind on the breath as it is felt between the two nostrils. The goal is to focus awareness on the flow of the breath, where it can be perceived at the nostrils on inhalation and exhalation. When you focus the mind on the center between the nostrils, you will soon discover that both nostrils are flowing freely. When both nostrils flow freely, that is called sandhya, the wedding of the sun and the moon, or between pingala and ida. Once this experience can be maintained for five minutes, the student has crossed a great barrier, and the mind has attained some one-pointedness. Then the mind becomes focused inward.
For meditation, the finest of all breathing exercises is sushumna application. When you learn how to apply sushumna, there is no way for your mind to go anywhere but into the inner journey. According to the ancient yoga manuals and the science of yoga, there are three important points in the inward journey. The cream of the yoga science is to learn first to apply sushumna; next to awaken kundalini and lead her to the highest dimension; and then to attain the knowledge of the Absolute. This is the entire purpose of the yoga system.
Application of sushumna and awakening of kundalini are the two most important aspects of yogic practice before union between jiva and Shiva is accomplished. When sushumna is applied, the yogi feels a sensation of fire going to the brain as if a hot current of air is being blown through a tube from its lower end to its upper end. With the force of pranic energy, the muladhara and swadisthana chakras vibrate, and the primal force is fully awakened. When the students of meditation learn to apply sushumna, then they really start practicing meditation, and meditation becomes a joyful experience. The student can notice when his breath starts flowing freely through both nostrils, and this symptom is an indication of sushumna awakening. In samaya, which is the highest of all yoga paths and tantra, sushumna awakening after bhuta shuddhi (internal and external purification) is the first requisite. Then kundalini is awakened, and in the third step it is led to sahasrara and not allowed to flow again to the lower levels of consciousness.
The science of breath actually ends with sushumna application. It is the method by which you establish harmony between the two aspects of breath. During that time, both nostrils flow freely. Without sushumna application, meditation, the inward journey, becomes difficult, so you should learn the method of sushumna application. When you attempt sushumna application, ask your mind to focus at the nose bridge. Let your thoughts come and do not be afraid. You are trying to discipline your conscious mind, which is only a small part of the whole mind.
In the Kathopanishad, the King of Death says, “There are innumerable nerves and veins in the physical system, and among them the most important is that which goes upward through the spine. That one is called sushumna. It travels through the spinal column and leads to the highest heaven as conceived by the yogis. One who can enter sushumna at the time of death can attain Brahman, the highest goal of life. All other paths are paths of rebirth. From sushumna, the yogi ultimately reaches the highest consciousness of the Supreme Lord. By yogic practice, the yogi can commune with Parama Shiva, seated on the sacred throne of the thousand-petalled-lotus. Sushumna is the key point of liberation. From the sahasrara or crown chakra, he rises finally to the realm of the absolute Brahman.”
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
The aim of life is Self-realization. The saying, “Know thyself,” was written on the temple of the oracle at Delphi in ancient Greece. This is where East and West meet. Both East and West agree on this goal, though they might hold different ways of attaining it.
The one important part of life is ignored by the educational systems at home, in society, and in the colleges and universities: “Know thyself.” You need to understand yourself on all levels. You don’t need much external information; you already have true knowledge within. You need to learn how to apply the knowledge that you have.
All the practices, therapies, remedies, and all the exercises whatsoever, are not really meant for the body or the soul. The soul is perfect; it doesn’t need any exercise or meditation. The soul needs no improvement. If you meditate, there will be no change in the Spirit. You need to meditate and you need help, not for the soul, but for your mind. As the great Upanishads say, “The mind is the instrument that can become either a means of liberation or a means of bondage.” Thus, you should understand the nature of your mind. It’s easy to say that, but it’s not so easy to actually know it. When you want to study the mind, how do you actually do it? You don’t have any external device or instrument to use to study the mind, so you have to train one of the aspects of your mind to study the totality of the mind. You have to train a part of the mind, so that all the functions of the mind can be studied through the use of that one part.
The first real step of development in life is to know yourself, not to talk about knowing God. This is a journey within; you are trying to explore who you are, so that you can function well in your life, understand your habit patterns, and learn to live happily in the world. To learn that, you need to study your own self of three levels: action, speech, and mind.
Studying the sayings of the great sages does inspire and support a student. But studying one’s own thoughts, emotions, deeds, and actions is the real study. We intellectually know many things, yet our ignorance is not dispelled. By self-study we experience directly that which dispels the darkness of ignorance. Only when one has carefully learned the study of his own internal states will the true knowledge of the Self begin to dawn.
The human endeavor and purpose is not actually to attain God. You already have God; God is omnipresent. What you don’t have, what you have not attained, is yourself. So your endeavor should really be to attain yourself. When you truly know yourself, when you realize yourself, then you will understand that you have also realized God. That which you call God today, you will understand fully when you know yourself on the deepest level. Do not disturb your practice of religion, but also learn to know yourself on all levels.
You do not become or attain God, and even if you could become God, you’d be sorry, because if that happened, you would no longer be understood by anybody. Strive instead for one goal, and that is to understand your Self; know how to know the Self. If you do not know yourself and you are trying to know God, it is not possible to do so. Don’t hanker after God; know about yourself first. You are fully equipped to know yourself; you have all the means and tools to do so. You are not searching for something outside yourself that is difficult to find. You are searching for someone who is already within you, so it is actually easy to find. The day that you see the Source face to face, you have accomplished your work as a human being—that is your human endeavor.
The external world is like a wheel. The spokes are like the various faculties of mind. Reality is your center hub, but to know that inner cause of all your movements, you first have to know the nature of these faculties of mind which make you move. There are three aspects of yourself to understand: that which moves, that through which it moves, and that which is the cause of movement. You have to clearly understand these three aspects to fully understand yourself. The nature of the hub within cannot be imagined with the mind, because your mind is conditioned by time, space, and causation. Your human effort is to know your entire Self, all three aspects—the self that moves, the subtler self that motivates us to move, and the subtler Self that is the cause of movement. This is why you should distinguish between the mere self and the real Self.
You have to know yourself by first understanding your internal states; you cannot know the center hub unless you know the wheel. This wheel of the mind rotates because of its spokes, and these spokes rotate because of the hub. If you want to know the hub of your own nature, it’s a very simple principle to understand. These spokes are the four functions of mind, and inside, at the deepest level, there is the hub. These functions operate and these spokes rotate because of the hub, the Center of Consciousness. All power comes from the Center. The world only inspires or motivates the mind. Everyone should learn to understand their own mind. Whenever you perform any action, ask your buddhi to tell you whether it is right or wrong. I know this will disappoint you, but it is the truth: no one outside you can give you salvation. Don’t trust or depend on anyone to do that….the truth is, we have to enlighten ourselves. You have to light your own lamp; nobody else will give you salvation. The simple method to enlightenment is to first know yourself. Learn to work with yourself; don’t give up in that. Give up on anything else, but don’t give up that goal.
When you understand the functions of the mind, you can establish inner coordination. But if you are not coordinated, you stumble, and inner stumbling creates a serious conflict for human beings. Inner conflict is the mother of all problems, because if there is conflict within, there will always be conflict without. How to be free from conflicts within and without is the only question in life. On the inner path, you will always get help from the center of truth, for the quest of truth is always helpful. We are all children of truth and immortality and eternity. But before you can understand and realize this, you must learn to analyze yourself. It is your mind and personality which prevent you from experiencing that finest level of yourself—the Center of Consciousness within.
Slowly you should prepare yourself for the advanced level of teaching. Knowledge will come of itself, but all knowledge really comes from within. It is already within you. The world outside only gives you facts to relate to that particular knowledge that is already within you. Never forget that the source of knowledge is within you. Learn to depend only on inner knowledge.
This is a system of commitment, not commandment. You are committing to yourself, to your path, and to the goal that you will know yourself. This is your commitment; it is not a commandment from outside you, that you must know yourself. If you don’t want to know yourself or don’t care to know yourself, then no one can force you. But as you grow you will come to a point where you will want to know your deeper Self, and then you become committed to the idea that you will know yourself in this lifetime. You want to know yourself on all levels.
Learn to know yourself; you have sufficient time to accomplish that. Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have enough time. You may say you not attained anything. Are you sure that you have been doing meditation? Did you sit and sleep or dream or think? Maybe you have been thinking about many things in the name of meditation. Maybe you have sat for years in meditation but did not really meditate, and then have complained that nothing has happened to you. Do not give your mind space to wander when you meditate, but go step by step in the process.
Examine yourself sincerely and ask yourself if you want to meditate, to explore, to know yourself, and to choose your habits. Presently you are a stranger to yourself. How can you live in the world and tolerate such agony? Many traditions say to the student, “Know thyself,” as the first step. To know yourself, there are only three schools or methods: prayer, meditation, and contemplation. In the process of meditation there is expansion in the waking state. You are facing yourself in that waking state, and your thought patterns are coming. You have stored them in the unconscious, and when you relax your conscious mind, the thoughts come forward. Learn to allow your thought patterns to let go, and then develop introspection.
The waking state is actually only a small part of the mind. The waking state can be expanded. It can become a means for us. Any state of mind—waking, dreaming, or sleeping—can be used as a means to attain the goal. The waking state can be expanded, but even if you do not want to expand it, then you should still learn how to make your mind one-pointed through meditation on a focal point. This requires only a small part of the totality of the mind to bring your waking state into balance. However, the yogis say to expand your consciousness during the waking state. When you expand yourself, what will happen? Through expansion of the waking state you can attain turiya, the fourth state, beyond waking, dreaming, and sleep.
If anyone wants to be a student of the interior world, of the path of light, if he wants to do inner research, he will have to understand this point: one must have a purified, free, and one-pointed mind to know and examine the interior Self. For conducting research within, one should be truthful, sincere, and free from prejudices. Research should not be shaded by social and cultural norms or religious fanaticism. It requires a totally independent and unbiased mind. In doing research within, we have to completely forget our prejudices from the past, and we have to remain true to ourselves; otherwise our research will be incomplete.
Also, we must start training the mind to be inward. We must train the mind to go inside to our personal world, so that we can understand those needs, motivations, desires, those strong powers within us that move us to do something in the external world. We want to know their nature. We want to know why we act and feel the way we do. We ourselves have created our miseries, and if we want to understand this truthfully, we will have to turn the mind inward. The mind must be trained to go inward and examine itself because it is not accustomed to practicing a technique of inwardness.
One can discover a great deal about the inner life by studying body language. So when we start turning within, we do not have to ignore the external world, nor do we have to make any radical change in our external life. We simply have to be ourselves and create a strong desire to know ourselves from within. That desire is the first requirement. If one doesn’t understand the importance of spirituality and meditation, then he should not waste his time and energy with it. If one is not convinced that meditation is a technique that is helpful, if one is not prepared, then he should not apply that technique. So first, to research the inner world, one needs a burning desire to know his inner potentials and states.
The yogis say that you can analyze the whole universe and know everything about it by understanding yourself and your mind. You want to know about the universe, and to know about it, you will have to know the miniature universe that is yourself. You are becoming a scientist, and you want to know about the universe, yourself, your relationship with the universe, and all the mysteries of the universe. You want to learn everything, but to do this you need to understand yourself and your mind first.
On this path, you yourself are a laboratory for research. Your internal states contain many instruments for research. Your internal states contain many instruments within you; you have to learn to use those instruments to understand the Consciousness that flows from its Center, which is already within you. Nothing external is going to help you in your quest.
The meditator really becomes an internal explorer and investigator, who is studying the internal reactions and processes of the mind, on both the conscious and unconscious levels. The meditator is an interior researcher, and what is brought out is creative intelligence that can be used in the external world. Meditation helps you to fully know and understand all the capacities of the mind—memory, concentration, emotion, reasoning, and intuition. Those who meditate begin to understand how to coordinate, balance, and enhance all these capabilities, using them to their fullest potential. Then they go beyond the usual states of mind and consciousness.
Many people think the mind can be controlled. That is not a useful idea. Like the monkey, the mind can never actually be controlled; it can only be directed. If you want to try to control your mind, you will regret the results. Forget the word “control” and learn to direct your mind and energy on all levels.
There have been many scholarly commentaries on the Yoga Sutras but all the commentaries miss something very practical. Such commentaries can only satisfy the intellect, but do not actually help you beyond that: “yogash chitta vritti nirodah”—yoga is the control of the “modifications” of the mind. Nirodah means control; there is no other English word for it. Control does not mean suppression, but channeling or regulating. You use this word “control” everyday, without knowing why you are using it, resulting in confusion. The mind can be understood in many ways, but even if you know exactly what the mind is, you still don’t have control over your mind. Mere knowledge will not give you control over your mind. Control means knowing the way in which to direct your mind. Control does not mean preventing the mind from functioning, but being aware of the mind and having a choice about the way it is directed.
That which separates you from your real Self—the whole and real—is your ego. You may wonder how you can cut down that ego or may try to tear it down or forget it, but that is not possible. Instead, you have to learn to polish or train your ego. When the ego becomes aware of the Reality, it is trained, and then the ego is useful. If the ego does not remain aware of the Reality, then the ego becomes unhelpful; it is then harmful or an obstacle. The mind is a great tool that you can learn to use when you know about the various faculties of mind. As long as there are conflicts in your mind, it means that you have not resolved certain things. Such conflict creates misery and then you experience the misery. You can resolve your conflicts yourself. No one else is going to resolve them for you.
You first need to be de-hypnotized, to understand free thinking. Free thinking will come when you fully understand all the faculties of mind and the modifications of your mind, when you understand each part of the whole wheel of the mind separately….I know I am telling you something that is hard to understand, but I have to, because otherwise you will not make any progress on the path.
The purpose of fear is to lead you to question and understand why you have that fear in the first place. As you examine your fears, you will learn that all your fears are somehow false and based on misunderstandings. There is no truth or reality to your fears. Many fears remain buried within you, and you never really examine them, so you remain at their mercy. In fact, you are afraid to examine your fears, but you should learn to examine each fear, one by one, and to encounter them and then be free of their control. This process is very important. To fear and try to escape from examining one’s thought process is a serious mistake for a student to make.
All your fears should be examined so that you can remain fearless as long as you live. There is no charm in a life full of fear. You should not accept this fearful sort of living. Fearless living is possible when you have understood the way to do your actions in the external world and when you have learned about your internal states.
All your actions leave some impression in your unconscious mind, and those impressions then become your samskaras and control your life. To make progress, your samskaras need to be purified. You can do that in meditation if you ask all the impressions in your mind to come forward, so that you can examine and burn them. You can consciously bring forward all the latent, buried impressions during meditation, telling your mind that you are ready to face them, and if you have built that kind of determination and willpower, you can allow those samskaras to be burnt mentally. They are all mental impressions, there is nothing solid or material there. All these past impressions can be burnt, and then you can be free from them. The goal is to expand the conscious aspect of mind so that there is no unconscious.
If you want to understand intuition and the path to inner wisdom, you must first understand the avenues through which you receive knowledge. This includes the processes of perception and conception, instinct, as well as intuition. Deep within you, within the recesses of your being, lies the library of intuition, but you do not know how to reach it, and you don’t have access to its wealth. We are all rich, deep within. Great people receive a small fountain from that knowledge, and that’s why they become great. The knowledge of the mind, the senses, and instinctual knowledge do not help in this. All those kinds of knowledge, all those resources, are important and we need them and can use them, but the highest of all knowledge is intuition. Intuition does not require any evidence at all; it does not need to ask if something is right. When you have intuition, you don’t have to ask about it, because you know it’s right. That knowledge helps you see things and know things as they are, and then you no longer see things incompletely and partially.
All things happen in the inner world long before they happen outside. If you concentrate and watch silently, you can know what is going to happen to you in the future, but usually your mind remains busy in the material world. Everything happens in the subtle world long before it takes place externally. If you know how to, you can take precautions.
When your mind becomes aware that the Spirit is everywhere, then the mind surrenders. The mind learns that although it thought it knew all things, Spirit is everywhere and the mind is nothing. Mind learns that all the power it has is due only to the Spirit, the Source of life, the Source of Consciousness. Then the mind surrenders. That is the meaning of true surrender; such self-surrender is the highest of all yogas. Your mind surrenders when you reach such a height that the mind doesn’t function any longer. Mind is still there, but as it becomes aware of the Reality, its ego vanishes. When you fully understand the functions of mind, you will know how to work with yourself.
We need to inspect our thinking process. We must recall that what is going on in our minds is produced by us. We should inspect it and always recognize it as our own product. Each person’s thinking is his own creation. We begin by learning to inspect and analyze our own minds. First we find that we do indeed have minds because we think. We come to realize that we are not the same as our thinking process and our minds. Through analysis, through introspection we learn to discriminate between the thinker and the thinking process. The first step to control and liberation is self-observation.
One can easily understand that the center of consciousness, Atman, is overlaid by many coverings. The aspirant should apply the exact scientific methods taught by the ancient scriptures and teachers to attain an understanding of each covering. These methods enable the student to comprehend both the mere self—body, breath, senses, and all the dimensions of mind—and to help him go to the source of consciousness. Before one reaches the fountainhead of life and light from which consciousness flows spontaneously, he has to understand the various realities that exist. He can then conceive of the idea that the human beings have many subtle bodies within the physical body.
In the path of sadhana no effort is in vain; all sincere efforts bear their fruits in the unconscious mind according to the inevitable law of karma. Even a little sadhana practiced with sincere effort leaves deep imprints in the unconscious mind. Those impressions help and guide the sadhaka whenever he goes off the path. The conscious part of the mind is but a small part of the whole. It is helpful in communicating with the external world but has very little use on the inward journey. If the conscious part of the mind is trained not to create further barriers, then sadhana is useful. Yoga sadhana alone has explored all the unknown levels of life and is thus useful for knowing the levels of the unconscious and for training the totality of the mind. Sadhana alone is the way of knowing, understanding, and analyzing the internal states and one’s relationship to the external world. While treading the path of the inner world, the sadhaka comes in touch with those potentialities that guide him unconsciously, or sometimes through dreams, and at other times consciously. Fearlessness thus increases, and self-reliance is strengthened. He is fully protected by the finer forces that exist, although he is not aware of them because of his extroverted nature. No danger can ever befall the sincere sadhaka in his exploration of the inner realms. The sadhaka is completely protected if he is fully dedicated to the goal of Self-realization.
Attention is the first step on the ladder to develop one-pointedness of mind. One must pay wholehearted attention to all of the things he does from morning until evening. If one forms the habit of attending fully to whatever he is doing, the mind will become trained, and eventually concentration will become effortless. Thousands of thoughts remain awaiting to be entertained. The purpose of sadhana is to attend to those thoughts in a systematic manner so that they do not create unrest in the inner world.
You need to examine honestly what is in your mind. Be honest with yourself. Do not meditate if you are being hypocritical and are just sitting and punishing yourself. There should be only one desire, the desire for meditation, the desire to go deep inside. At first, you will fail to achieve it, but that does not matter; you should not give up.
Start to work with yourself: when you work with yourself, do not waste energy observing what others are doing. Appreciate what they are doing, and do not condemn or criticize what they are not doing. Otherwise, you spend your whole life in celebrating or in mourning. What is important is that you constantly work with yourself, no matter who you are. The thought, “I am going to enlighten myself,” should not make you egotistical. You should not isolate yourself; this thought should make you more creative, because withdrawing yourself from the world is not your real motive; it is not life’s purpose. Your life’s purpose is to live in the world and yet remain above it.
Above all else, remember this one thing: it is easy to meet that Infinity within.
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
The aspirant learns to analyze or resolve all his desires, thoughts, and feelings through the practice of yoga nidra. He attains a state in which he consciously learns to place his mind in deep rest. Yoga nidra cannot be translated into any other language, but for the convenience of modern students it is called “yogic sleep” or “sleepless sleep.” This is a state of conscious sleep in which the student is in deep sleep and yet remains fully conscious. The yogis use this technique for both sleep and meditation. The quality of rest one receives through this method is entirely different from that which is derived through ordinary sleep.
Yoga nidra is a revitalizing exercise that gives total rest to the mind, brain, nervous system, senses, and body. Except through meditation and yoga nidra, one cannot give rest to the totality of the mind. There is no drug and no scientific or physical technique so far discovered that gives rest to the unconscious part of the mind, except the technique of yoga nidra.
Yoga nidra is unlike meditation because in meditation one does not seek conscious awareness of the state of deep sleep. During meditation, one learns to practice a steady and comfortable pose, but in yoga nidra, the corpse posture alone is recommended. Yoga nidra supports and strengthens the meditational technique. Deep meditation helps the mind attain one-pointedness, while contemplation leads one to the state of constant awareness.
Yoga nidra has immense benefits and can be used for learning the subtleties of life. Only by yoga nidra can one study how the mind slips to dreaming and then goes to deep sleep, how the conscious mind withdraws itself and goes to the lap of the unconscious. The yogis recall all their samskaras, watch them, examine, and even select and reject them according to their need. Those thought patterns that are disturbing are rejected, and those that are helpful are strengthened. With the help and practice of yoga nidra, one can go beyond all the levels of the unconscious.
In the state of dreamless sleep one experiences unity, in contrast to the diversity of the objects experienced in the waking state. Yogis describe this as a void or a state of purely subjective consciousness that has a blissful quality. The sleeper ordinarily enters this blissful state a few times each night and replenishes oneself, but unfortunately, one is not able to be consciously aware of being in that state, so one does not fully experience its blissful quality.
Yogis, therefore, practice methods for extending self-consciousness into this state. They state that the task of the human being is to become consciously aware of the state of deep sleep, which is the unifier of all manifest states and experiences.
But unless the conscious mind is trained to do so, it cannot recall in the waking state memories from the experience of deep sleep. To progress beyond the three manifest states of consciousness of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, the student must learn to consciously gain access to all those states at will and to realize all three states simultaneously, as well as their unity within himself and the universe. To accomplish this, yogis learn to go into a deep state of voluntary sleep, called yoga nidra, and yet remain fully aware of the environment.
In yoga nidra the clarity of mind is more profound than in the waking state. Often, due to lack of coordination of the functions of mind, the mind is clouded and does not remain fully attentive, but in the state of yogic sleep, the mind remains one-pointed and clear. But the highest joy and perennial happiness is realized when one attains the state beyond, turiya.
The finest time to practice yoga nidra is early in the morning before the sun rises, or in the evening around sunset. It should be done when it is dark and there is no strain, stimuli, distraction or noise from outside. In the daytime it is difficult to practice well, but if you want to practice it, then you should make your room dark. Usually yoga nidra is not done before three o’clock in the afternoon. The best time to do yoga nidra is right after meditation if you are not tired and do not fall asleep easily. This practice should not be used for sleep or for relaxation. It should only be done for yoga nidra. To learn this method you need to have a definite time set aside so that you can practice at the same time every day. See that you are protected from noise; a little bit of sound can agitate your nervous system and injure your brain fibers, so that is why the quiet time of night is preferred.
In the beginning, you should use ten minutes for this exercise. If you are doing it for more than ten minutes in the beginning, then surely you are not doing yoga nidra but are only sleeping, because the normal capacity of brain wave relaxation is only ten minutes. Your own mind will remind you of your capacity.
The human personality is composed of habit patterns. If yoga nidra is practiced regularly like the practice of meditation, habit will lead you spontaneously to this state. Otherwise to remain fighting mentally—because you are only practicing occasionally—brings frustration. When you think that it is difficult to practice, then it really becomes difficult. But when you decide and determine to practice, your willpower and determination will lead you to achieve what you want to do.
Yogis reduce the amount of sleep to two and a half hours, and finally to no sleep. Using “sleepless sleep,” they go to a state of deep meditation instead of sleep. When meditation becomes your whole life this change naturally occurs.
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
The yogis say to expand, not contract, your consciousness during the waking state. When you expand yourself, what will happen? Through expansion of the waking state you can attain turiya. You make the waking state a means to expand your consciousness, to widen your little field of mind, which has got many barriers and fences. You are expanding the field of mind. For expanding the mind, one should understand two laws of life, one is contraction and the other is expansion. In expansion, one learns to love, serve, and to give selflessly. In contraction, one goes on building the boundaries around themselves by becoming selfish, egotistical, and finally miserable. In spirituality, expansion of the mind is important and for that a student should learn to direct mind, action, and experience to the goal he wants to attain. When you expand the field of the mind, the dream state comes under the waking state. Let your dreaming state become the waking state and also let your sleeping state become the waking state, with the help of the technique of yoga nidra.
In the process of meditation there is expansion in the waking state. You are facing yourself in that waking state, and your thought patterns are coming. You have stored them in the unconscious, and when you relax your conscious mind, the thoughts come forward. Learn to allow your thought patterns to let go, and then develop introspection. The waking state can be expanded, but even if you do not want to expand it, then you should still learn how to make your mind one-pointed through meditation on a focal point.
To make progress, your samskaras need to be purified. In meditation you can ask all the impressions in your mind to come forward, so that you can examine and burn them. All these past impressions can be burnt, and then you can be free from them. The goal is to expand the conscious aspect of mind so that there is no unconscious.
The part of mind that you do not consciously educate is referred to as “the sleeping mind” or “the dreaming mind.” It is not under your control. This vast part of your mind remains uncultured, untrained, and uneducated. That vast level of mind is the unconscious. Great men know how to expand their conscious level of mind, and then there is nothing that remains unconscious for them. They expand the field of the conscious mind and reduce the unconscious. The sages are conscious of that which is unconscious for you.
A person who does not meditate does not know how to expand his consciousness. He has narrow vision as if he is looking through a window, but when he learns to expand his consciousness, it is like going through a door. It is exactly as if one were looking through a small window in a house. From the window his view is very limited, but when he goes out of the house, he has a much wider view. When he goes to the roof, he can see even more clearly. As one’s consciousness expands, his vision becomes clearer, and he understands things as they are.
Do you want to follow the philosophy of contraction or that of expansion? If you follow the path of expansion, you can go to that state of mind where you can see how your body is dropped. In that state you are legally dead, yet you are still alive. You can know the techniques and so you are not afraid of death. You can do that in this lifetime by working with the mind and meditation. When you go beyond the conscious mind, then you go beyond the unconscious mind, and then you are in the place of expansion. Before you attain the fourth state of consciousness, turiya, the state beyond, you have to go through that state of expansion.
When the conscious state is expanded, dream analysis becomes clear, and the ideas and symbols that are experienced during that state are easily understood. The harmful and injurious dreams that strain and distract the mind and its energy can be analyzed and resolved. All conflicts that are at the root of dreams can be resolved. A time comes when meditation stirs the unconscious mind and brings forward impressions from its hidden recesses. It quickens the method of analyzing, understanding, and surveying the whole dream state. Whatever dreaming reality is, it can be brought under the meditator’s conscious control. That aspect of mind that dreams and the energy that is consumed by dreaming can be brought into creative use and channeled for higher purposes.
When you follow the law of expansion, you learn that you are one with the universe. That realization should be your goal. If you remain only an isolated individual to the last breath of your life, then you have not grown—you have simply wasted your time and your life. Then, the joy that we are meant to derive on all levels remains only on the selfish level, and you do not ever fully understand the purpose of life, and how relationships with others help you to expand your personality.
When you calm your mind and make it one-pointed, it can penetrate those fields of the mind that are not ordinarily penetrated by humans, and then you will perceive the Reality within.
You are a nucleus and this universe is your expansion. You are not merely a part of the universe. By thinking that you are only a part of the universe you become very small, you reduce yourself to dust. Rather, this universe is your expansion.
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
Uncontrolled thoughts lead to the asylum, but controlled internal dialogue leads to an understanding of the nature of the mind and helps in the path of meditation and contemplation.
Developing internal dialogue is a very important step, but one that few students understand. To succeed in meditation you have to develop this important step. You do not begin with meditation itself. First you learn to set a regular meditation time, and then to have a dialogue with yourself. In this process you are coming in contact with your inner, internal states. You are learning about the subtle aspects of your mind, your own conscience, and at the same time you are training yourself. If you don’t have time to have a dialogue with yourself, to fulfill the purpose of your life, that is a sin.
If you have a dialogue with yourself for a few minutes or hours before you do meditation, then your meditation will be good. If you do not do that, then you use your meditation time for self-dialogue, and then the “meditation” is not really meditation. So before you begin to try to meditate, you should sit down and talk to yourself, have a dialogue. In this manner many problems can be solved, and you will receive new insights. The state of meditation may not yet have actually been developed, but you can just relax and have a dialogue with yourself at exactly the same time.
Your task is to cultivate a relationship with your own mind. This process of dialogue is very important. You will enjoy internal dialogue, provided you take the time to do it well. Learn to make some time for this. Have a good, pleasant dialogue. To talk to your mind, you should have confidence. You have to realize that the mind is yours, but is has taken over. In this process, you start a dialogue, talking to yourself.
When you coordinate the way you think, the way you speak, and the way you act, that is perfect communication. Such a person has the capacity to become a sage. Your problem is that this inner perspective—and thus your knowledge—is not retained. It is as if your are pouring milk into a bowl with a hole in it. Your first effort should be to patch that hole, and then, when knowledge comes, it is retained. When you expand the capacity you have, you receive knowledge. In your self-dialogue you do not, out of egotism, start controlling your mind—you start by being a friend.
To have a friend is great. You share what you have with a friend, and he shares what he has. Understand that your mind is your friend. Be a close friend to your mind, a very close friend. Let the mind whisper those inner secrets to you, and put all things in front of your mind. This is the contract between you and your great friend, the mind. Put in front of your mind all your external problems, and your mind will share all its inner secrets and whispers. To do this, you need courage. This path of fire and light is tread only by the person who has courage.
Each of you has good qualities, but you do not come in touch with them. When you experience your negativity, then you develop many sicknesses. That is why having a dialogue is very important. When you have a dialogue, your mind has a tremendous capacity, a vast capacity. Your mind can tell you many things, but do not allow your untrained, unpolished, uncontrolled, and uneducated mind become your teacher. Let your mind remain a friend. When you talk to a friend there is a question of what you accept and what you do not accept. Do experiments with yourself: how often does your mind lie and how often is it accurate? Establish a friendship with your mind on an equal basis. Do not listen to the mind’s temptations, but do listen to its suggestions, good ideas, and advice.
When you have a self-dialogue, you may realize that God has graced you with everything. So who creates problems for you if you are not at peace? Your mind. You can have a dialogue with the mind and tell the mind, “When you do this to me, you are perhaps the greatest sufferer. You suffer and make the body suffer. Please be my friend.” Your mind can be a great friend or a great foe. If you use all your internal resources you will not have an enemy, but you will have a friend. That which is an enemy can be converted into a great friend. To learn to love, begin by being gentle in your dialogue.
The process of learning to have an internal dialogue will definitely help you learn to make a friend of your mind, and then you can begin the process of self-transformation.
Learn to counsel yourself and have a self-dialogue. Learn to mentally talk to yourself. Sit down and have a dialogue with yourself; ask yourself why you are doing an action. Then you will understand the process of habit formation. With all your idealization of sadhana and gurus and teachers, you have neglected one thing: you need to know something practical. You need to know a practical method of gaining freedom from those weaknesses which are difficult for you to resolve.
Your whole life can be one of meditation. One method is to ask yourself to consider some question that is on your mind. The source of the answers for such questions is exactly the same place as that from which the questions themselves spring. The question comes from within and the answer is also within. Your questions remain a question because you cannot withdraw yourself from the conflict for some time like a second person, and watch from a distance. When questions come, say to them, “Okay, come.” Do not push them away by repeating your mantra. That is not helpful; instead, let everything come before you for a decision—just watch.
You need to train your buddhi, the intellect, as well as the functions of manas, ahamkara, and chitta. This is the real training and the real education in life—when you start to educate yourself. In this kind of training, books can’t help you; nothing external will help you. You have to understand yourself. You need to ask yourself how you think, why you are emotional, and what the problems are with your mind. You need to question why you become emotionally disorganized, why you forget things, and why you do not attend to things properly. You need to consider why you often do not do what you really want to do. Put these questions to yourself and you’ll find the answers.
Such a dialogue is itself called “upanishad.” The word “upanishad” refers to those teachings imparted by a teacher. It is a dialogue between the student and the teacher: one wants to learn, and the other wants to teach, and both are very dedicated. A special kind of loyalty and sincerity exists between them. Fortunate are whose who are enlightened, and most fortunate are those who are prepared to receive the teachings. When a competent teacher, a great seer, has prepared his student, that dialogue is an upanishad. You can also enter into such a dialogue with yourself if you become a real student, and if you are committed, and have decided that you want to receive knowledge from within. There is a procedure for doing this that you should understand. The teacher in the external world has his responsibility. The responsibility of the external teacher is over when he leads his student to the path of silence, from which everyone receives knowledge.
The simple method to enlightenment is to first know yourself. Learn to work with yourself; don’t give up in that. Give up on anything else, but don’t give up that goal. Remind yourself, “I will continue to work with myself. I can do it, I will do it, and I must do it.” Remember these three sentences: “I can do it. I will do it, and I must do it.”
Whenever anything comes into your mind, ask your buddhi, the counselor within, “Should I do it?” The moment you ask, “Should I do it?” means you are counseling with your buddhi. You may commit mistakes, once, twice, or even three times, but buddhi will always guide you more and more clearly. Slowly your ego will become aware of the Truth. The day that the ego becomes aware of the Truth, that barrier that the ego creates every day will instead become a means. Then, the same power that is presently your enemy becomes your friend, and that is a delightful experience.
Internal dialogue is actually a contemplative method. Such dialogues strengthen the faculty of decisiveness and sharpen the buddhi, the higher intellect, which can penetrate into the subtleties of the inner levels. Mental dialogue is very healthy for resolving many conflicts that arise in the mind of the aspirant as it remains habitually traveling to the grooves of past habits. One example of this contemplative method of internal dialogue is to close the eyes and ask, “O mind, witness the world of objects, and observe the impermanence of those objects you long to achieve, to embrace, and to save. What difference is there in the objects of dreams and the objects of the waking state? What reason is there for being attached to the unreal things of the world; they are like experiences of the dreaming state. They are constantly changing, and you have no right to own them, for you can only use them. O mind, listen to the sayings of the great sages and teachers; follow in the footprints of those who have already trod the path of light and enlightenment. You will find that Truth is that which is unchangeable; Absolute Reality is that which is beyond the conditioning of time, space, and causation.”
If one does not appreciate and accept himself, it is because he has been doing negative meditation. This has made him what he is today. Worry is one form of negative meditation and it can become a deep-seated unconscious habit. One can create many diseases through his own mind and one can heal himself through this same mind. So one should learn to give himself feedback. “I am all right, and the life force is here in me. Why am I condemning myself? Why am I hurting myself?” That mind which has the power to create guilt feelings and many diseases also has the power to heal, for it is completely controlled by the thinking process.
Internal dialogue is an important practice which can help one remain aware of the reality within while he is doing his actions in the world. One should sit down every morning and talk to himself. This will help him learn more about himself, and knowing about himself, he will not become egotistical. All the ancient scriptures are actually dialogues. Christ talked with His apostles; Moses talked with the wise men; Krishna talked with Arjuna—these are all dialogues. We should also learn to go through a mental dialogue of our own. You should have a dialogue with yourself within your mind every day. A conscious process of inner dialogue like this can pacify one and wash off all bad feelings. This dialogue is one of the finest therapies there is and prepares one for meditational therapy. Meditational therapy, if used and properly understood, is the highest of all the therapies and teaches one how to be still on all levels. Then by allowing the unconscious mind to come forward, one can go beyond it, and that inner reality comes to the conscious field and expands.
The process of purifying, cleansing and emptying the mind is absolutely essential for successful meditation. We must not seek too quickly and impatiently to achieve higher states and higher experiences before we have managed to empty the mind from disturbing thought and to calm it. In a monastery novices do not begin with meditation. First students are taught to purify their minds. Modern man is too impatient and wants to master the art of meditation immediately. Learn to have a dialogue between the observer and that which is being observed. Follow the imagination in this dialogue, analyze and observe the train of mental objects, and slowly control will be gained over these things. We rise above them, and they disappear from the domain of mind.
Introspection and Witnessing
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
The laws of the internal journey are entirely different. They comprise the science of yoga. You want to be an interior researcher; you want to know something valuable. To be an interior researcher you first need to understand the four states of consciousness: the waking state, the dreaming state, the state of deep sleep, and the state beyond. Once you understand the first three states, then you definitely understand that there is something beyond.
After practicing disciplined action and speech and studying their marvelous effects, one should learn to understand and practice mental discipline. Slowly he begins discriminating between helpful thoughts and those unhelpful thoughts that consume more human energy than anything else. This introspective (inspecting within) method leads one to the next step: witnessing. Here one learns to witness all that happens, both in the external and internal worlds, without becoming involved in it. While one is still learning, he must be patient and not become disappointed if at times he fails to remain a witness but instead becomes emotionally caught up in what is taking place. In pursuing such a self-training program, one should make a commitment to himself for the sake of his growth that he will practice regularly and faithfully no matter what. This is not the same as following a commandment or a blind injunction. After understanding the importance of the discipline of mind, speech, and action and after practicing that discipline regularly for some time, one experiences certain extraordinary phenomena that are based on those realities that cannot be understood by the conscious mind.
You have the capacity and strength to expand your conscious mind with the help of a method that is called “interior research,” the internal journey. You have to be a master if you really want to enjoy life here—the master of your own mind. Your mind is yours; know your mind.
The reason you do not have the capacity to inspect within is that you are swayed by your thoughts and identify yourself with your thought patterns. The wisdom to decide what is useful in the mind is not there, so you are controlled by your thought patterns. Inspect within to see what is good and what is not good for your practice. If you do not have determination first, do not inspect your thoughts, because otherwise your thoughts will control you. Then you will see how easily you are distracted. Your mind will create many fantasies and images, one after another.
The mind should be untroubled and free. It should not be occupied by worldly worries and emotional problems. So yoga science includes several methods for controlling such problems. The first is to assume an attitude of detachment. One should gently close the eyes, withdraw the senses from the external world, and say to oneself, “Who am I? I am not the body, senses, mind, emotions and impulses. I am the all-pervading atman. How can these emotions and impulses disturb me? I am completely detached.”
Another method of calming the mind consists of trying to be a mere witness to one’s mental activity, observing silently the thought waves arising in the mind. One should not associate with the passing thoughts; one should merely watch them flit by. No attempt should be made to use the faculties of discrimination or will, and there should be no struggle for control of the emotions and impulses, but one should note carefully the degree and duration of conflicts of attention. Repeated effort will bear fruit. The initial attempts may be very frustrating; only patience and perseverance will lead to success. However, if the conflicts are insurmountable the practice should be halted and continued at a more suitable time, for there should be no sense of effort involved in any method of concentration. Effort leads to tension, and tension upsets the nervous system and results in serious discomfort.
The state of meditation needs to be expanded in the waking state. You are facing yourself in that waking state, and your thought patterns are coming. You have stored them in the unconscious, and when you relax your conscious mind, they come forward. Learn to allow them to let go, and then develop introspection. The next step is to learn to witness your thoughts. Your thoughts are people. They are not mere thoughts; they are people within you. You are a world in yourself. You are a universe, and all your thoughts are people. Just as people are born and die, so too, thoughts are born and die. There are thoughts that create great grooves or imprints in your mind, and those thoughts are called samskaras. You can eliminate those thoughts if you have the power, and if you know how to eliminate them. You can be free from your samskaras. You can obtain freedom from your samskaras, from the impressions that you have stored in the unconscious mind. You have the power to do that. The mind has a habit of going into the grooves of past experiences. When you create a new groove, the mind stops flowing into the past grooves and starts flowing in the new grooves that you have consciously created. These new grooves lead you to silence. Your aim in meditation is to go into that silence from where wisdom flows, that fountain of life and light, that flows with all its majesty.
It is essential that we learn to control the thinking process. By gaining control over the thinking process we can gain control over the impressions stored in the mind and eventually over our entire karma. Through introspection, inspection within, one can discover the nature and origin of his thought. Mental functioning and internal motivations always precede external actions. Through introspection we can learn to understand and see clearly our habits and their origins. Through introspection we can change our habits and thus change our character and personality. In order to change habits we must be aware of our present condition and our goals. The goal is simply to be perfect.
As we grow through introspection our conscience makes us more aware of our perfections and imperfections, and we gain greater control over our mind. Through introspection, through observation of what effect your habits, thoughts and actions have upon you, you can learn to distinguish between what is advisable and beneficial and what is harmful or dangerous for you. You can learn what is your real nature and what is not your real nature. We can use discrimination and introspection in looking into the stream of symbols, ideas, images and fantasies in the mind. We see right away that these images are not independent; these symbols have certain inner meanings for us. We color them ourselves, and we cannot trust them without analyzing them. So there is right knowledge and there is wrong knowledge. Yoga science never asks us to follow anything blindly but rather to discriminate and to analyze. Learning to discriminate between useful and harmful knowledge is an important facet in the process of introspection.
When a meditator learns not to identify himself with his thinking process and his train of thoughts, he becomes aware of his essential nature and starts witnessing things differently without any identification. The meditator is not disturbed by the actions and attitudes of others. This state requires that we learn the different functions of the mind.
Meditation is not sitting and fidgeting, daydreaming, worrying, or fantasizing. It means watching, calmly observing the mind itself. Calm observation makes the mind itself calmer. The calmness of the mind creates power to go deeper and deeper into the beds of samskaras, into all the latent memories and impressions that daily provoke our habits and personalities. However, by calmly and very quietly going to the samskaras and observing them they are burnt away; they bubble to the surface and dissipate. This is the process of purification. It is a very powerful practice, and an essential one. Meditation is the exact method of becoming aware of who you are. It is the fundamental training for knowing your inner world.
In the river of life all our actions, thoughts, and sensations are like pebbles which settle on the bed of the river, and we soon lose conscious awareness of them. These pebbles or sensations thrown into the river create very tiny bubbles in the depths of the river which come up and burst at the surface. All of our samskaras reside in the latent bed of memory. When we start studying life with the help of contemplation and meditation, these hidden samskaras come up to the surface as if seeking to be expressed in the external world. If we become fixated on these bubbles of thoughts which arise in the river of our life we will be unable to achieve liberation. To study action and even thought can provide some personal consolation; but it is not the way of liberation and enlightenment, although it is always helpful to understand one’s actions and thoughts. Without focusing on the subtle traces of our mind stuff, that is, on the samskaras in their latent form rather than on their manifestation at the surface, enlightenment is not possible.
When a student starts meditating and calming down the conscious mind, he experiences the bubbles of his thoughts rising to the surface; but he is not aware that all these bubbles actually originate in the bed of the river of his mind where disturbing pebbles are constantly settling. He often resists these disturbances and can become disgusted with himself on account of them. If the student is patient and determined he will cease to struggle with these thoughts and will start to study them. This study needs careful attention so that the rising thoughts do not adversely affect the student. This is possible if he practices witnessing the thoughts by not identifying himself with the quality, image, idea, fantasy and fancy which appear before him and which can entice him. It is natural for all the hidden tendencies of our unconscious mind to come to the surface, and it is also natural for a student to be disturbed by them. Yet if the student remains aware of his goal, which lies beyond the unconscious mind, then he will learn to study these thought forms without discomfort. Past samskaras do create problems and disturbances for the student of meditation, but sincere effort, determination and one-pointedness can help him maintain awareness of his goal. Constant and exclusive study of the thinking process at the conscious level is not a sound way to follow the path of meditation. It is self-study of the unconscious mind stuff which is important. Many strange thoughts rise to the surface during our thinking process and it is not possible for anyone to analyze and get rid of them at the conscious level, for these bubbles form deep in the unconscious mind.
Often people seek to analyze the karma in their relationship with the people with whom they live, but that is only one aspect of understanding karma and the fruits that are received from that karma. Karma is a law of our own making. There are two ways of gaining freedom from the bondage of karma. One is to renounce karma; the other is to do karma skillfully and selflessly. It is not practical or possible for the ordinary man to renounce all of his duties, eliminate his desires and surrender his motivations; but the practical way of gaining freedom is to do one’s own karma skillfully and selflessly so that karma no longer remains a bondage.
The first stage of meditation is to clear the mind. We all know that we think but do not know why or what are the root causes of our thoughts. It is essential to observe the thinking process and witness the contents of the mind. To establish ourselves in our own basic nature we need to know how to cleanse the mind. We constantly identify with the content of the mind and with our memories. Things which trouble us inwardly are hidden from others, but we see them and allow ourselves to be disturbed constantly by them. Through meditation we gain control over these disturbances and learn to observe and witness them. Then slowly problems fade from our mental processes.
There is a bed of memory in the mind where we store the seeds of our impressions or samskaras. Without this bed the river of mind cannot flow. From this bed arise many of the memories and impressions which trouble and disturb us. In meditation we learn first to calm down the conscious mind so that these impressions may be allowed to rise and pass through our mind without troubling us. Then we learn to deal with the deeper memories of the unconscious mind with which we normally have no contact.
In our educational system we learn only to train the conscious mind, but in meditation we deal with the whole mind. When the conscious mind has been calmed we learn to integrate all the parts of the mind and to bring them to a single point of concentration. This is known as making the mind one-pointed.
The conscious mind is used in the waking state. We do not have total control over the conscious mind. By mental and silent repetition of the mantra and in engaging in internal dialogues which help us to analyze our inner selves, we may slowly develop sankalpa, i.e., unconscious determination or resolve. Sankalpa helps us slowly to gain control over the conscious mind, to calm it down and eventually to bring the other parts of the mind and the other states of consciousness within our awareness.
To achieve tranquility one practices meditation. We slowly learn not to be disturbed when the mind interferes during meditation. We must learn simply to observe the disturbing thoughts and let them pass. For this we need patience, and we need to inspect our thinking process. We must recall that what is going on in our minds is produced by us. We should inspect it and always recognize it as our own product. Each person’s thinking is his own creation. It will not help to project our thoughts onto others and to blame them for the things which trouble us. Brooding does not help. We should let the bubbles which arise from the depths of the pool of the mind vanish slowly. Do not fight with your thoughts for this will only interfere with your meditation even more. Simply observe things and watch them as a calm witness. Meditate; do not fight with your thoughts.
We begin by learning to inspect and analyze our own minds. First we find that we do indeed have minds because we think. We come to realize that we are not the same as our thinking process and our minds. Through analysis, through introspection we learn to discriminate between the thinker and the thinking process. The first step to control and liberation is self-observation.
When you observe yourself you find that there is a mental “train” which is constantly running through your mind. This train contains symbols, ideas, imaginings, fantasies and fancies. We tend to identify with these things, to feel that they are part of us and yet to know that in some basic way they are of a different order of reality. We know that there is something in us, an identity which is distinct and separate from all of our mental objects. It is that self which must be pursued deeper and deeper, separating it from all other experiences.
Anything that comes into our mind belongs to one of the categories of objects in the mental train. We need only to observe them. Even though it is not clear where the train comes from or where it will go, simply observe it and let it pass. Never suppress or struggle with your feelings. Never hold back your desires or try to argue. Simply analyze them, inspect them, let them all pass. Never identify with them.
Of course this analysis should be done mentally. It is not necessary to express your feelings and desires openly or in acts. Simply analyze, observe and witness them during self-examination. When new symbols arise in the mind, observe them and persist in remembering your mantra. If the train lingers on and refuses to go away, simply watch it. Stand there and watch the train.
This process of purifying, cleansing and emptying the mind is absolutely essential for successful meditation. We must not seek too quickly and impatiently to achieve higher states and higher experiences before we have managed to empty the mind from disturbing thought and to calm it. In a monastery novices do not begin with meditation. First students are taught to purify their minds. Modern man is too impatient and wants to master the art of meditation immediately.
If we cannot learn to go beyond the thinking process, examine it. Slowly become aware of the separation between you and your thoughts. Thoughts will appear and disappear, but always learn to be a witness. Good and bad thoughts will cease to have meaning when we stop identifying with them. We will see that these are merely mental objects for us to observe and witness. We will find that that which is already realized and which never changes is the Self, and that which changes, grows and decays is non-Self. As meditation progresses we will separate these two and identify more strongly with the Self and less with the non-Self.
Many people assume that meditation means not thinking. But if you stop your mind from thinking, you will hallucinate, and your mind will lose consciousness. Meditation does not mean losing touch with yourself or denying your thinking process. When you are fighting with your thinking process you are not meditating. Fighting deepens negative thought patterns. Learn instead to let go of the thinking process; learn to gradually strengthen the witnessing faculty of your mind. In this way, you can understand and examine thought patterns with the help of introspection, strengthening those thoughts that are inspiring, helpful, and positive.
You are the architect of your life. Never forget that. By systematic practice, in three months’ time you will be able to calm down your breath. Gradually, you will be able to have perfect serenity on your conscious level, and then you will find that infinite library called the unconscious mind slowly coming back to your conscious level. Then you can go beyond these levels to the very center of consciousness.
When you turn within, you understand that it is the mind that creates a barrier between you and the Reality. Many people who study meditation think that they should try to stop the mind from thinking, but this never happens. Many students think, “Oh, what a bad thought is coming. My method of meditation must not be good.” The thought is not bad, but they become very caught up in it, and they allow those thought patterns to influence their body language. This does not allow them to be steady. The mind goes through fluctuations at a very high speed, and when you try to study the mind, you don’t know how to handle it because no one has helped you train the mind. What can help you train the mind? Nothing external can help you. The yogis pray, “O Lord, let this external world not trouble me, so that I can go within.” When you remove the obstacle you have been creating, then you are enlightened. Enlightenment is not something that you gain. You are already enlightened, but you do not realize it because you are constantly identifying yourself with the outer sheaths and with the objects of the world.
You have to understand the levels within yourself. To understand your unconscious mind, you have to be alert and observant and work with yourself gradually. Do not be harsh to yourself: the mind is like a river and you cannot stop its thinking. Mind is like a river, and if you try to create a kind of dam or reservoir in it for some time, and become like a beaver, trying to stop the flow of the river, eventually there will be a great disaster. Therefore, do not try to stop or suppress your thinking. That’s a bad way to try to understand or control your mind.
Learn to introspect, which means “inspection within.” To do this, sit down and observe what you are thinking. You actually already know; you really know all your weaknesses, and actually you are busy hiding them, so if you go to a therapist, what can he or she do? The therapist cannot help you because you are hiding from yourself. Depending too much on either a therapist or a teacher is not a good thing. They exist to help you become healthy, happy, and self-reliant. If you are not becoming self-reliant, healthy, and happy, then leave your guru or your therapist. Either he is not helping you or you are not following the advice.
If you want to change your personality and are following a true path, and you commit a mistake, you will receive help because of your quest of truth and righteousness. Your inner world is larger and more powerful than the world you see around you: there is something great inside you. Someone is witnessing your actions, speech, and mind, and that observer is actually you, the finest part of your Self.
You can burn your samskaras. To burn your samskaras, you sit in deep meditation, build your determination, and tell your mind and your samskaras, “At this time my mind is only for meditation. I have to meditate and learn to go beyond this mire of delusion and confusion created by my mind.” Then, you allow all the impressions to come forward and you don’t get involved with them. That method is called “inspection within,” or introspection, and slowly you learn to become a witness. Another method is to burn your samskaras inside that fire of knowledge and to offer all those samskaras to the Light, to that great fire within, and then burn them.
Do not allow yourself to suppress your thoughts. Instead, let the thoughts come before you and become a sort of observer. Start observing your own mind. Do not try to escape; do not be afraid of your thinking. If anything comes into your mind, and if you do not accept it within the mind, then it is not yours. Even your realization that a thought does not belong to you involves the thought of someone else. What is that thought that is your own thought? No thought is really yours. Try to consider a single thought that is purely yours. In all of your thoughts, there is either someone else involved or there is an image from outside.
The way to work with your intruding thoughts is to let each thought come, whether it is good or bad. Simply decide that whatever comes, you will not be disturbed. Realize that this thought, whatever it is, cannot disturb your whole life. What happens to most people is that any thought that comes into their mind disturbs their whole being. Then another thought comes, and that also disturbs them, and this happens continuously. Then they become weak and spineless because of such thoughts. They become afraid because some particular thought is coming into their mind. The difference between you and an accomplished swami is that you take things into your heart, but a wise person doesn’t take negative things into his heart. Decide that whatever negative thought occurs, or whatever others say, you will not accept it blindly. Decide that you will observe the thought or suggestion and let it come.
The meditator really becomes an internal explorer and investigator, who is studying the internal reactions and processes of his or her own mind, on both the conscious and unconscious levels. The meditator is an interior researcher, and what is brought out is creative intelligence that can be used in the external world. Meditation helps you to fully know and understand all the capacities of the mind—memory, concentration, emotion, reasoning, and intuition. Those who meditate begin to understand how to coordinate, balance, and enhance all these capacities, using them to their fullest potential. Then they go beyond the usual states of mind and consciousness through the practice of meditation.
With the help of meditation, the conscious mind can be trained to form a new habit. The personality can be transformed when one learns to let go of the habitual thoughts arising in the conscious mind. Then, the next step is to learn to witness the thoughts going on in your mental train, practicing and learning to remain undisturbed, unaffected, and uninvolved.
Even when the conscious mind has become seemingly calm, a single impression that arises from the unconscious can suddenly distort the mind, exactly the way that a pebble’s splash can disturb the smooth surface of a lake. Human emotion is an immense power which must be guided. In this endeavor, students need to learn patience with themselves. To fear and try to escape from examining one’s own thought processes is a serious mistake for a student to make. You should examine all your fears, and then you will find they are imaginary and irrational. From this point, you then begin the process of contemplation with analysis. Gradually, you will acquire the power to inspect your own thinking process, while remaining undisturbed. Such a mind attains clarity and is then prepared to attain samadhi. There are many levels of samadhi, which is a state of deep, absorbed meditation.
During meditation, one remains fully awake and conscious, but during dreaming, one is not conscious, and the unconscious impressions appear whether one desires them to do so or not. In the dreaming state, one has no control, but in meditation one has perfect control. When it is said that one can remain fully conscious while dreaming, it means that one can remain in meditation and recall all the unfulfilled desires that are expressed during that time. One can then analyze and resolve them. The mind is trained to maintain a single focal point of meditation voluntarily. This gives the aspirant an opportunity to judge, analyze, and decide the usefulness of the impressions coming from the unconscious that create dreaming reality.
During meditation, the meditator can experience all that which is experienced during the dreaming state. He is fully conscious though he is not utilizing his senses and not contacting external objects. When the conscious state is expanded, dream analysis becomes clear, and the ideas and symbols that are experienced during that state are easily understood. If one has clear introspection, the harmful and injurious dreams that strain and distract the mind and its energy can be analyzed and resolved. A time comes when meditation stirs the unconscious mind and brings forward impressions from its hidden recesses. It quickens the method of analyzing, understanding, and surveying the whole dreaming state.
Thoughts, ideas, feelings, and desires do flow from the unconscious mind, but they do not have any power to disturb the meditator because his mind is concentrated. Those impressions are like other thoughts that pass through the mind, but they do not create disturbance for the meditator. But the dreamer may be disturbed by his dreams because they are not under his conscious control. Dreams alone are not the subject for analysis but the entire dreaming reality should be understood thoroughly.
The aspect of mind that is involved in the dreaming state can be brought under control through meditation. The conscious mind and its field can be expanded, and such an expansion is helpful for the aspirant in fathoming higher levels. In this method of meditation, any fantasy or superficial experience is discarded as it comes to the surface of the meditator’s mind from the hidden levels of the unconscious. Therefore, an experience of any type is considered to be invalid until the mind is completely purified and mental dissipations are brought under conscious control. When meditation deepens, the unconscious part of the mind and the sleeping state are also gradually brought under control.
If the unconscious mind is not at rest, and if there is constant turmoil, then the mind is unbalanced. When the conscious mind is agitated by the incoming flow (from the unconscious) of unfulfilled desires, thoughts, and feelings, the senses are not able to perceive as they should. If the conscious mind is free from conflicts, then it coordinates with the senses, and the data that are collected through sense perception are accurate. If one knows how to deal with disturbing thoughts, desires, and feelings, then the conscious mind can direct the senses, and behavior becomes normal.
When one is relaxed and finds quiet time in stillness, the conscious mind is rested and relaxed. The conscious mind, being a part of the unconscious, or being one with the unconscious, then starts receiving impressions from the unconscious mind, which is all-knowing and which stores, remembers, reminds, and is the bed of memory for all physical and mental activities. The mind is conditioned by time, space, and causation; it is not trained to be here and now. People do not actually realize what here and now means—either the mind goes to the old grooves of habit or it imagines the future. This method of meditation does not allow the mind to recall past memories and experiences or to imagine the future but is directed in an orderly way so that it maintains nowness. During that time, the best knowledge that one already has in the inner library of the unconscious comes forward. This knowledge is finer and more subtle and can be depended upon more than the knowledge gained through the cultivation of the conscious mind, which functions during the waking state.
With the help of the meditation technique, the student experiences the finer dimensions of energy and thus gains self-confidence and inner strength. Any kind of dependency is discarded. Just as a boat is needed to cross the river, so a competent teacher is needed at a preliminary stage. When the river is crossed, the boat remains at the bank. Then the student goes ahead and does not use his teacher as a crutch.
Students are constantly reminded and instructed by their preceptors that there is only one goal of life, and that is the Ultimate Truth, which is known by attaining the fourth state. The fourth state is a fully conscious state, but that consciousness does not depend on sense perception and is not polluted by a flood of dreams. It is not at all an unconscious state but is a state of full awareness that gives the human being an ability to see things as they are within and without. Expansion of the conscious mind is experienced, and the reality experienced in the dreaming state and the waking state becomes clearer.
The observer and the observed create a dualistic reality, while the aspirant’s aim is to realize the Absolute Truth. Here meditation ends, and the higher step of contemplation helps one to realize that one’s real self is the Self of all. One also realizes that the realities experienced during waking, dreaming, and sleeping are only apparent realities, and the self-existent reality of turiya alone is the one all-pervading reality. Meditation is still a dualistic concept, but the highest state of contemplation is monistic. It leads to Self-realization, while the concept of meditation leads to samadhi, and samadhi and Self-realization are two different states.
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
The sages say that the only difference between you and them lies in the nature of your thoughts and your mind. Some people retain good and helpful thoughts, and others retain negative and passive thoughts. Those thoughts that are helpful should be encouraged, and those thoughts that are not helpful should not be encouraged. On the path of meditation you learn this process. Suppose a thought comes into the mind that you should slap someone. The faculty of discrimination can tell you that it is not a good thing to do, and then the thought will diminish. An ordinary man retains the negative thought, while a sage allows it to pass away.
Meditation should become a regular habit. Do your meditation at exactly the same time, no matter what happens, and make it prominent in your life. Some days you will stumble, some days you will do it, but finally, if you are persistent, you will have time. Students should examine their priorities and ask themselves what is prominent in their lives. Is your enlightenment most important, or is it food or sex? You need to decide on one, because you have not decided on that so far. Once you have decided, then you will have to find the way of doing this. What you do with your decision is important, otherwise, although people decide, they cannot carry out the practice. Determine that no matter what happens, life or death, you will sit down to meditate. Many times the mind goes through fluctuations and roams around, but just sit down and do the practice. If you do not want to meditate, then do not meditate. You should not fight with your mind; you should have a gentle dialogue with your mind. You will learn many things when you enter into this kind of self-dialogue.
The most successful person is that person who knows how to decide on time. There are many extraordinarily brilliant people who understand things very quickly, but when the time comes to make a decision, when an opportunity comes, they withdraw and are not able to act. They do not know how to decide. They know they should learn to decide on time, but they don’t do it.
That which we have to do today, we should not postpone for tomorrow, but we should also not make decisions in haste. We may have a setback if we make a wrong decision, but our mistakes will teach us. Many people avoid making decisions their whole lives, so their decisive faculty of mind, the faculty of discrimination, becomes rusty and dies. When we study the four functions of mind—buddhi, the faculty of decisiveness; ahamkara, the principle of identity; chitta, the storehouse of impressions; and manas, the importer and exporter of sensations and experience—then we become aware of the power of the will. Will power is that something within us that comes forward and says, “Do this. It will be helpful for you.” Training the internal functions helps us to understand the decisive faculty of the mind, without which we cannot be successful.
One should cultivate constant awareness by being mindful all the time, remaining always aware of one’s thoughts. To purify the buddhi, or the faculty of discrimination, is the most important task. This means one should learn to discriminate between pure and impure thoughts, and between helpful and disturbing thoughts. When one learns to remain always aware of one’s thoughts and to discriminate between thoughts, the result is that he develops the sense of determination and strengthens his will.
A student knows that impure and disturbing thoughts lead to greater bondage and create obstacles. When the faculty of discrimination is sharpened the student is then able to strengthen those thoughts which are pure and helpful. Thus, he does not allow the seeds of impure or disturbing thoughts to grow within.
It is true that one must understand himself from within to attain a state of perfection, but analysis is not sufficient to transform the personality. After analysis comes the discrimination to make a proper decision. The principle of choosing the best alternative is called discrimination, and is one of the principles needed for developing control of the mind. The reason one experiences failure is because he does not know how to make decisions at the right time and place. It is very important to understand the mind and how it functions, for the mind functions in exactly the way one wants it to. The day one understands this and determines to change it, the mind changes of its own course.
Like all the great ones, in order to make spiritual progress, you first need to understand your own thinking process, and actually there are many levels to understand in your thinking process. A good thought is that which makes you peaceful, tranquil, balanced, happy, and joyous. Such a thought should not be allowed to die unexpressed within yourself, nor should it remain asleep or dormant within. It should be expressed through your mind, action, and speech. So as far as observing your thoughts is concerned, you need to learn to select or reject from among your many thoughts.
The mind functions through the senses. Whenever an event takes place that relates to an impression in your mind, then the impression or samskara becomes active. All your actions leave some impression in your unconscious mind, and those impressions then become your samskaras and control your life. To make progress, your samskaras need to be purified. There are two known ways to purify your samskaras. But there are also only two known ways to happiness: either you fulfill your desires and understand which desires you want to fulfill by doing your duties, or otherwise you completely renounce the desire, and then reduce your desires to a minimum. When you come to the point where there is no desire, then there is nothing to be fulfilled. You have two choices of path: fulfill the desire or renounce the desire. When you fulfill your desires by doing actions, you must remember that to do so, you must do your actions with love.
Learn to depend only on inner knowledge. Your mind plays tricks with you, and then you suddenly begin to lose your self-confidence. The moment you lose your self-confidence, then your mind cannot decide about anything on time. If you miss doing what you should have done today, and try instead to do it tomorrow, it is not the same. Great men know how to decide things on time; they are the most successful people in the world. This is true from a mundane, worldly point of view, and it is also true from a divine point of view. The key to all success in life lies in having developed your decisive faculty so that you can use it in your daily life.
You may wonder how you can accomplish this. If you go around experiencing self-inflicted pain all day and you do not try to control yourself, to mend your ways, or to change your habits, then you will not receive much benefit from life. You should surrender everywhere else in life, but you should never surrender to your own negative habits; you should go on fighting this battle and continue it your whole life. This is not a one-day battle, and the day that you accept defeat in working with yourself is the day you are really gone from the platform of life. Do not accept defeat from either adversity outside yourself or from your own negative thinking—go on and you will overcome them. That is possible to achieve through willpower; you have that willpower. The more one-pointed your mind becomes, the more concentrated the mind is, and then your willpower will become even more dynamic.
During meditation, many thoughts come and go; each thought is pushed away by another. There is a continuity of thought, a continuous train of thoughts. Simply let them go away. If one particular thought comes and goes, again and again, and if you do not take any action, then it will eventually not continue to come back, because you are not paying it any interest. Those thoughts that are colored by your interest are those that motivate you to do things. Not all thoughts have that power. Not all of your thoughts need expression externally, so allow your thoughts to arise, decide if they are creative or helpful thoughts, and then express those that are useful. The first lesson in the practice is to simply allow the thoughts to arise. Then, secondly, bring back before yourself that which is important. You can easily do this; it does not require any advanced practice of meditation.
We must constantly observe the thinking process and see what its nature is. We generally find that the thinking process is supported by wishes, wants and desires which are not all the same. Wishes generally involve doubt. We are not certain we can have that for which we wish. Wants are unreasonable. They are demands for things which we either do not deserve or are impossible for us to obtain. Desire stems from need. It usually expresses the necessity to fulfill some urge or craving. All of these things must be examined and sifted through. We must decide which is good for us and which is bad, all the while observing the train as it passes by. Without the total integration of all our faculties we cannot cross the boundaries of the mind and soar to higher levels of enlightenment.
Teachings from books by Swami Rama
The word “guru” is misused. It is such a noble word, such a wonderful word, a sacred word. After your mother has given birth to you, and your parents have raised you, then the role of the guru begins and he helps you fulfill the purpose of your life. All followers of a guru, whatever their age, even if they are eighty years old, are like children to him. He will feed them, give them shelter and then teach them without expecting anything in return. The relationship with a guru is so pure that no other relationship is even comparable. Everything the guru has, even his body, mind and soul, belongs to his student. But if he has any odd habits at all, they belong only to himself.
You try your best to something for the guru, but you cannot because he doesn’t need anything. Such a compassionate one spontaneously attracts your attention, for you are bewildered. You wonder, “Why is he doing so much for me? What does he want from me.” He wants nothing, for what he is doing is his duty, the purpose of his life. If he guides you, he is not obliging you, he is doing his work. He cannot live without doing his duty. Such people are called “gurus.” They guide humanity.
No human being can ever become a guru. But when a human being allows himself to be used as a channel for receiving and transmitting by the Power of Powers, then it happens. And for that, a human should learn to be selfless. Genuine gurus cannot live without selflessness, for selfless love is the very basis of their enlightenment. They radiate life and light from the unknown corners of the world. The world does not even know them, and they do not want recognition.
Guru is frequently considered to be merely someone who is trained in philosophy, meditation, and hatha yoga. From this point of view, the guru is expected to share his knowledge with the students, training them in scriptures and various spiritual disciplines. While the student may become dependent on the teacher and have high expectations about what the teacher should do on behalf of the student, the guru is nonetheless viewed as a teacher only. Guru is much more than a teacher. He or she represents the special energy that is guiding individuals toward their fulfillment as human beings, toward perfection. Grace is the impulse of that energy. The word “guru” is a compound of two words, “gu” and “ru.” “Gu” means “darkness” and “ru” means light. That light which dispels the darkness of ignorance is called guru. The energy and the action of removing darkness are guru. Guru is not a person, it is a force driven by grace.
To put this another way, there is an intelligent momentum that pervades the universe that is moving all human beings toward the perfection we call God. Guru is that intelligence. Everyone’s receptivity to that intelligence varies. It depends on preparation. In other words, guru is always there, but the student may not be ready to receive what the guru has to offer. When the student is prepared, the guru always arrives to help the student do what is necessary to progress in removing the veil of ignorance.
Guru is not a person, but guru can be represented in a person. One who has developed his or her own spiritual awareness to a very high level can guide others, and is considered to be a guru. Only one who is finely attuned to the inner guide can inspire the awakening of the inner guide in another. Guru is not a physical being. If a guru begins thinking this power is her or his power, then they are no longer a guide. The guru is a tradition, a stream of knowledge.
Only one who is well established in the stage of nirvikalpa samadhi is an illumined yogi, and only such a yogi can truly guide other aspirants. Such a yogi is beyond the bondage of space, time and causation, and he is ever free, for it is possible for him to remain dissolved in Brahman and yet return to normal consciousness.
The relationship of guru to disciple is indescribable. The relationship extends to the realm beyond the world, transcends death, and stretches far beyond the limited karmic bonds associated with family and friends. A mother and father help sustain the body of their child, and nurture and guide the child through formative years of life to adulthood. Guru sustains, nurtures, and guides a soul through lifetimes to ultimate liberation.
The guru wants nothing from the disciple. Guru is that force moving a soul toward enlightenment. The guru’s actions are from pure compassion. As the sun shines and lives far above, the guru gives spiritual love and remains unattached.
Guru is not the goal. Anyone who establishes himself as a guru to be worshipped, is not a guru. Guru is like a boat for crossing the river. It is important to have a good boat and it is very dangerous to have a boat that is leaking. The boat brings you across the river. When the river is crossed the boat is no longer necessary. You don’t hang onto the boat after completing the journey, and you certainly don’t worship the boat.
Many times students come to the guru with a preconceived ideas and expectations of what the guru should be like, how he should behave, and what he should do for them. When these expectations and preconceived images are not met, the student becomes upset and may even leave the guru. This is not the proper way to approach a teacher. A student should not be filled with expectations and preconceived images, but with a burning desire to learn, and with firm determination. Then there will be no difficulty. The guru and the disciple can then do their work accordingly. The spiritual seeker should not worry about who the guru is, or what the guru will do. The seeker’s first concern is getting prepared, organizing his or her life and thoughts in a spiritually healthy way, and then working toward a way of life that simplifies and purifies. At the right time the master will be there.
The guru also teaches without words or actions. As the disciple learns to surrender and move the ego out of the way, and grows more selfless, the ability to learn intuitively from the guru grows. The student learns in the cave of silence. It is like tuning into the guru’s frequency or plugging into that stream of knowledge. The guru is always working from there. The disciple’s role is to gradually learn to also work from that place.
Gurus impart the best of their knowledge in silence. When you are in silence, they communicate with you through silence, and in silence. For the student whose mind is in tune, that teaching is the finest of teachings. This silent communication can happen no matter where you are physically, whether you are 10,000 miles away or very close.
When you sincerely tread the path, you will meet one who can help you with all setbacks.
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. I, pp. 7-8
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 199-200
 A Call to Humanity, pp. 109-110
 Choosing a Path, p. 125
 Choosing a Path, pp. 127-128
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 95-96
 Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama, p. 22
 Meditation and Its Practice, pp. 83-85
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 25-26
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 67-68
 Choosing a Path, p. 16
 Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama, pp. 22-23
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 111
 Meditation and Its Practice, p. 2
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 119
 Perennial Psychological of the Bhagavad Gita, pp. 77-78
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, p. 70
 Perennial Psychological of the Bhagavad Gita, pp. 77-78
 Meditation and Its Practice, p. 49
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 230
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 145
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 161-162
 Meditation and Its Practice, p. 52
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 164
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 231
 Meditation and Its Practice, pp. 46-47
 Book of Wisdom, pp. 33-34
 Meditation and Its Practice, p. 50
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 120
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 125
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 127-128
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, p. 69
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, p. 74
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 205
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 140
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 77
 Life Here and Hereafter, p. 110
 Living with the Himalayan Masters, p. 387
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 123-124
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 130
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 136
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 140-141
 Meditation and Its Practice, p. 94
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 204-205
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 168
 A Call to Humanity, p. 68
 Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama, p. 157
 Science of Breath, p. 100
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. I, p. 32
 Science of Breath, p. 139
 Choosing a Path, p. 164
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 231
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. I, p.8
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. I, p. 104
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. I, p. 110
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 121-122
 Meditation and Its Practice, pp. 90-91
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 122
 Choosing a Path, p. 164-165
 Choosing a Path, p. 199
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 122
 Life Here and Hereafter, p. 109
 Choosing a Path, p. 37
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 25
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 27
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 156
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 25-26
 Choosing a Path, pp. 127-128
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 2
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 233
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 5-6
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 8
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 5
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 2
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 172-173
 Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama, p. 121
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 1
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 113
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 15
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 15
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 135
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 63
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 79
 Choosing a Path, pp.13-16
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 70
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 157
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 9
 Meditation and Its Practice, pp. 54-55
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 10
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 10
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 154
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 4
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 12-13
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 26-27
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 87-88
 Meditation and Its Practice, p. 93
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 15
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 107
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 149
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 159
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 15
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 166
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, p. 71-72
 Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita, p. 64
 Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita, pp. 76-77
 Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita, pp. 77-78
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 160
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 125
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 205
 Enlightenment Without God, pp. 61-65
 Enlightenment Without God, pp. 55-57
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 192-198
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 216
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 79-81
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 135
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 63
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 107
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 105-106
 A Practical Guide to Holistic Health, pp. 90-91
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 37-38
 Enlightenment Without God, p. 92
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 176-177
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 205
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 42
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, p. 19
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 102-110
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 96
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 119-120
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 138
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 167-168
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 172-173
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 173
 Enlightenment Without God, pp. 103-104
 A Practical Guide to Holistic Health, p. 86
 A Practical Guide to Holistic Health, pp. 122-123
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, p. 73
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 59
 Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita, pp. 98-99
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 95
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 133-134
 Lectures on Yoga, pp. 112-113
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 135-136
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, pp. 28-30
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, p. 32
 Sacred Journey, pp. 78-79
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, pp. 48-52
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, pp. 69-74
 Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama, p. 32
 Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama, pp. 118-119
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 197-198
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 45
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 108
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 121-122
 Meditation and Its Practice, pp. 54-55
 Meditation and Its Practice, pp. 92-93
 Enlightenment Without God, pp. 91-93
 Enlightenment Without God, pp. 107-108
 Enlightenment Without God, pp. 113-115
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 45
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, 101-102
 Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama, pp. 100-101
 Choosing a Path, p. 125
 A Practical Guide to Holistic Health, pp. 87-88
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 69
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 107-108
 The Art of Joyful Living, pp. 113-114
 The Art of Joyful Living, p. 124
 Freedom from the Bondage of Karma, p. 34
 Living with the Himalayan Masters, pp. 391-394
 Sacred Journey, p. 81-83
 Lectures on Yoga, p. 157
 Sacred Journey, p. 83-87
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, pp. 161-162
 Path of Fire and Light, Vol. II, p. 16