Tag Archives: Ramana Maharshi

Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 5)

The last posted article dealt with the six classical schools of Indian philosophy and gave a brief description of each. This article will focus on Vedanta as it applies to yoga, more specifically what Dr. David Frawley writes about the nature of yoga and its relationship to Vedanta.

Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 5)

The following is excerpted from Dr. Frawley’s book, “Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness.” …

"The first teachers who brought Yoga to the West came with the profound teachings of Vedanta as their greatest treasure to share with the world. They presented Vedanta as the philosophy of Self-realization and Yoga as the methodology by which to achieve it. Such great masters began with Swami Vivekananda at the end of the nineteenth century and continued with Swami Rama Tirtha, Paramahansa Yogananda, and the many disciples of Swami Shivananda of Rishikesh. They called their teaching Yoga-Vedanta, which they viewed as a complete science of spiritual growth.

"However, in the course of time asana or Yoga postures gained more popularity in the physically-minded West, and the Vedantic aspect of the teachings fell to the sidelines, particularly over the last twenty years. The result is that today few American Yoga teachers know what Vedanta is or can explain it to others. If they have an interest in meditation they generally look to Zen or Vipassana, not knowing that meditation is the very foundation of classical Yoga and its related traditions.

"Even students of related disciplines like Ayurveda or Vedic astrology may know little about Vedanta, the path of self-knowledge that is the spiritual support and goal of these systems. Meanwhile, those who study the great Vedantic gurus of modern India, like Ramana Maharshi or Nisargadatta Maharaj, generally look at the particular teacher as the source of the teachings, and they may fail to understand the tradition that they are part of. In this way the heart teachings of India's great sages have become progressively lost even to those who claim to follow their teachings in the West.

A bit about David Frawley: He has been a student of Ramana Maharashi’s teachings since 1970 and has written for their magazine The Mountain Path since 1978. He is a visitng professor at the Sringeri Shankaracharya Math, the oldest vedantic center in India, and has receive the personal blessings of the Shankaracharya. He teaches at Vedantic centers in America and is one of the few Westerns recognized as an authentic Vedantic teacher by the Vishva Hindu Parisha, the largest Hindu religious organization in the world. Frawley directs the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A brief Biography: Dr. David Frawley (aka, Pandit Vāmadeva) is a Vedic teacher and educator who is the author of over thirty books in several Vedic and Yogic fields published worldwide over the past thirty years. He is the founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies (www.vedanet.com), which offers on-line courses and publications on Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga, mantra and meditation, and Vedic astrology. He is involved in important research into ancient Vedic texts and is a well known modern exponent of Hinduism and Sanatana Dharma. He has a rare D.Litt in Yoga and is a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, one of India's highest civilian awards for "distinguished service of a higher order." His work is highly respected in traditional circles in India, as well as influential in the West, where he is involved in many Vedic and Yogic schools, ashrams and associations.

Stay tuned, this series will continue – coming up next; “Approaches to the True Goal of Yoga (Part 6).”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Meditation on the “Feeling” of Being

A quick Google search of the WWW will quickly reveal just how many types of meditation there are available to practice, each with its own disciplines and techniques. The ultimate goal of each one of them is to go beyond practice and make them “seamless,” then they become your natural state. Seamless meditation is when there is no differentiation or separation between the meditative state and day to day life.

Most people begin meditating by learning to still their mind and make it peaceful, and this is good. Once their mind is still, they can become aware of what they feel. Feelings will then be recognized to exist within a hierarchy. At the top of this hierarchy are the most profound feelings; those of joy, love, bliss and happiness. By meditating on your feelings, a deeper sense of well-being gradually develops and transforms the lower, superficial feelings, like fear, anger, boredom, loneliness etc. into the feelings of love, bliss and deep joy.

Once the whole array of human feelings are available, sit quietly and meditate, focusing on the feeling of being. It’s obvious that you most certainly do exist. You might question exactly who or what you are, but that you do indeed exist, there can be no doubt. So remain sitting and contemplate on this fact that you exist. You’ll soon see that you don’t need to think to exist, you don’t even need to be awake to exist. Neither do you need to be aware of anything to exist. Therefore, gradually let go of everything else so that all that’s left is this feeling of existing, the feeling of “being.” Assume an attitude of indifferent to everything; lose interest in everything during this meditation, apart from that most basic feeling of simply being or existing. Resist the temptation to see yourself as being “something” and just stay with simply being. If it helps, you can ask “do I need this (or that) to exist?” If the answer is no, then immediately let it go. Gradually, silently and even without thoughts, feel what it is to simply be.

When you can relax your attention, releasing everything and letting your attention return to its very source, you’ll notice that as soon as you stop giving your attention to anything, there is no longer an awareness of any “thing.” Then you can simply rest in your “beingness,” just as you are. This feeling of “being” is always, already there, way before it became modified and diminished into lesser feelings such as those we experience in everyday life; i.e.; excitement, disappointment, satisfaction, frustration, lust, revulsion, certainty, doubt, interest, boredom, energetic, lazy, fear, anticipation, joy, sorrow, tenderness, anger, etc. the list could go on forever, but you get the idea. That most basic feeling, before any other feeling can arise, is the feeling of being. Relax your attention so that all you are aware of is this feeling of being, make it seamless, at least for the time. You will then realize that you’re abiding in the very source of yourself, the point where your existence originated – the Self.

Another way of approach is the Vedantic practice of Vichara or Self-Enquiry, which is to ask, “Who am I?” In the beginning you might try to answer this intellectually, but eventually and with persistent practice, you can feel the answer, and it comes from the heart rather than the head. So initially think about the question, then move on to feeling the answer and finally become the answer. This question will lead you to discover the sense of  “I Am” that we all have. Not “I am this” or “I am that” but simply “I am” without distinction or qualification. If and when we can feel beyond this ego-self, we can let go of the feeling of “I” and feel the mere “Am-ness” behind the “I am”. Resting in that “Am-ness,” all sense of separate identity evaporates and you are present as the feeling of being.

This may lead to a swoon of bliss and light. This light is the light of higher awareness and is the light by which all objects (and all lesser lights) are seen and known. It is through this light that feelings, the mind and all thought is known.

During our normal waking hours it is mostly our verbal, thinking mind that we identify with, without any sense of our original, inherent, true, happy, blissful and loving identity, the one that lies within, beyond and behind it. Once we are able to engage meditation on the feeling if being, our perspective will have been changed forever.

Of related interest, click on:  The Importance of Meditation to Yoga Practice

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.