The Yoga Life 6: How to Tell if You Are Making Progress in Meditation
This podcast concerns how to gain a greater understanding of spiritual life through study of the Bhagavad Gita, and how to tell if you are making progress in meditation. Abbot George expands on list of seven indications of progress in meditation practice found in Journey to Self-Realization, a collection of talks by Paramhansa Yogananda, at the end of the talk entitled “The True Signs of Progress in Meditation.”
My Reminiscences of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh
“One time my friend Hari Datta Vasudev was telling me about some of the holy ones he had met during his life. After one account he paused and then looked at me very intently. ‘They are the glory of India!’ he told me. I agree and would like to tell you of the glory of India I encountered, the glory of God revealed in humanity.”
These podcasts recount Abbot George’s time with the great Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh in the early 60’s, beginning with how he first heard about Sivanandaji, and Abbot George’s experiences with him until Sivanandaji’s passing. This series is much more detailed than earlier podcasts about Swami Sivananda.
I meet Swami Sivananda
Swami Sivananda and Jesus
Swami Sivananda’s Humor
Days With Swami Sivananda
Swami Sivananda’s Humility – and Parting Advice
The Yoga Life 5: The Importance of Vegetarianism for the Yogi
Here Abbot George discusses how the mind, as a mass of vibrating energy, is limited by the constitution or condition of that energy. Some elements lighten the mind, making it fluid and subtle, vibrating at a very high level. It is this latter condition that is needed for attaining the state of liberation–or rather, the state that liberates the spirit from the illusion of bondage and suffering. To attain such liberation the mind must be purified and refined, vegetarian diet being one of the best and strongest means for its purification.
The Yoga Life 4: Niyama, the “Do”s of Yoga
Having finished Yama, the “Don’t”s of Yoga, in the last podcast, we now consider Niyama: the “Dos” of yoga.
• Shaucha: purity, cleanliness
• Santosha: contentment, peacefulness
• Tapas: austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline
• Swadhyaya: introspective self-study, spiritual study
• Ishwarapranidhana: offering of one’s life to God
The Yoga Life 3: Asteya, Brahmacharya, and Aparigraha, and the Great Vow
This podcast finishes the consideration of Yama, with its last three elements: asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha, and the sidesteps that people will take to avoid a strict adherence to these important principles. Then he considers the “Great Vow” of the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.”
Asteya is abstinence from stealing, which Vyasa defines as: “the improper appropriation to oneself of others’ things.” He then concludes: “Refusal to do it, in freedom from desire, is non-stealing.” “Brahmacharya is restraint of the sex organ and other senses,” says Vyasa. From this we see that brahmacharya has a twofold nature: control and continence. Vyasa’s definition of Aparigraha is most practical: “Seeing the defects in objects involved in acquiring them, and defending them, and losing them, and being attached to them, and depriving others of them, one does not take them to himself, and that is aparigraha.”
After listing ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha, Patanjali continues: “These, not conditioned by class, place, time or occasion, and extending to all stages, constitute the Great Vow” (Yoga Sutra 2:31).
The Yoga Life 2: a Practical Understanding of Harmlessness and Truthfulness
A practical and detailed analysis of the first of the components of Yama: Ahimsa (harmlessness) and Satya (truth), which it is essential for the aspiring yogi to understand.
Ahimsa is not willfully causing any harm or pain whatsoever to any being whatsoever, in any degree whatsoever. Ahimsa includes strict abstinence from any form of injury in act, speech, or thought.
“Satya is said to be speech and thought in conformity with what has been seen or inferred or heard on authority. The speech spoken to convey one’s own experience to others should be not deceitful, nor inaccurate, nor uninformative. It is that uttered for helping all beings. But that uttered to the harm of beings, even if it is what is called truth, when the ultimate aim is merely to injure beings, would not be truth. It would be a wrong.” So says Vyasa.
But these are mere definitions. How is the yogi to apply them in his Yoga Life, in his quest for enlightenment?
Introducing the Yoga Life 1: Laying the Foundations
The beginning of a series on how to lead the Yoga Life. Here Abbot George discusses what is lacking in the yoga practice of many, and why people fail or do not persevere in the path of yoga. Then he outlines the beginning of what the essential steps to success are.
First, what is meant by yoga, and what is the Yoga Life? What are the stages of an individual’s evolution? Then what are the “Foundations of Yoga”: Yama and Niyama?
Yama and Niyama are often called the Ten Commandments of Yoga, but they have nothing to do with the ideas of sin and virtue or good and evil as dictated by some cosmic potentate. Rather they are determined by a thoroughly practical, pragmatic basis: that which strengthens and facilitates our yoga practice should be observed and that which weakens or hinders it should be avoided.
Why We Meditate and the Obstacles We Overcome
Why do we meditate? In this podcast Abbot George discusses the real reason to meditate as contrasted with wrong reasons. Then continuing with Patanjali’s instructions from the Yoga Sutras, he explains the obstacles to spiritual life and their effects.
The obstacles are: Vyadhi: Disease of the body, Styana: Dullness; languor, debility; drooping state, Samshaya: Doubt; suspicion, Pramada: Carelessness; fault; guilt, Alasya: Laziness; idleness; apathy; sloth, Avirati: Hankering after objects; non-dispassion; sensual indulgence; lack of control; non-restraint, Bhranti-darshana: Delusion; erroneous view, Alabdhabhumikatva: Non-achievement of a stage; inability to find a footing, Anavashtitatvani: Unsteadiness; instability of mind; inability to find a footing; mental unsteadiness.
The effects of the obstacles are as follows: Dukha is pain; suffering; misery; sorrow; grief; unhappiness; stress; that which is unsatisfactory. Daurmanasya is despair, depression etc., caused by mental sickness; feeling of wretchedness and miserableness. Angamejayatva is shaking of the body; lack of control over the body. Shvasa-prashvasa is hard breathing; inspiration and expiration.
And the solution is meditation:
For removing these obstacles [there should be] the constant practice of the one principle [the japa and meditation of Om] (Yoga Sutras 1:32)