Yoga and Meditation

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.



AI Suggested Keywords:


Meditation instructions begin at 42:58

AI Summary: 

The talk delves into a detailed analysis of yoga practices grounded in classical Indian philosophy and spirituality, contrasting these with Western interpretations and applications. The discussion spans the philosophical foundations within the Yoga Sutras, with a specific focus on the practices intended to refine one's ethical and spiritual conduct. These include nonviolence (ahimsa) and practices enriching human relationships through compassion and universal friendship.

Key philosophical texts and concepts discussed:
- **Yoga Sutras**: Emphasized for its practical guidance on ethical and spiritual practices in yoga.
- **Bhagavad Gita**: Referred to as the "Gospel of Hinduism," with a Christian commentary by B. Griffiths titled *River of Compassion*.
- **Vijnana Bhairava Tantra**: Mentioned in the context of contemplative practices.

Key figures and concepts introduced:
- **Father B. Griffiths**: Notable for his Christian interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita.
- **Paramahansa Yogananda**: Credited with bringing Yoga to the West and establishing Kriya Yoga as a key practice.
- **The principle of Ahimsa and Ishvara Pranidhana**: Highlighted as core yogic precepts guiding nonviolence and surrender to God.

The practitioner's engagement with these teachings aims to foster a deep, contemplative engagement that transcends mere physical practice, inviting a mystical union with the divine and a profound transformation of consciousness. Through this engagement, yoga is presented not only as a personal spiritual discipline but also as a social one, influencing broader societal and cultural contexts.

AI Suggested Title: "Classical Yoga Philosophy and Its Western Interpretation"





So, we spoke about this core principle in the Yogasutras. Chapter 2 begins the... the chapter 1 of the Yogasutras, four chapters. The first chapter of the Yogasutras is a lot of very dense philosophy about the mind, consciousness, the heart, understanding, and so forth. And it's all aimed at leading the person studying Yoga into the understanding that we attain this knowledge of the ultimate not by senses, mind, or intellect, but by a... you might say a faculty of the heart that intuits the Absolute, intuits God. So, the first chapter


is philosophy, or philosophical anthropology. But the second chapter is practical, and it starts with these ten words. This is the basic practice of Yoga, and we don't usually talk about it. And... you're kind of out of the circle. We want to get into the circle here. You can put your things there and then just occupy that chair. It's easier on my neck when I sit on it. Thank you. Good, thank you. And so, it's often kind of passed over because we have this uncomfortable mental association with ethics, morality, law, commandments, precepts, and so forth. Keep in mind that these are sometimes translated... these ten words are sometimes translated as precepts and prohibitions. Prohibitions are either for a person and precepts.


But they are more descriptive than anything else. They describe what is... what is the way the yogi relates to the universe and to other people. And so, this principle... the first word is ahimsa, nonviolence, harmlessness, do no harm to yourself or to any other sentient being. And then, all the others flow from this. We mentioned about how the nonviolence in speech means the positive use of speech to comfort and console and encourage and instruct in a positive way. And then, nonviolence itself, negative in term, but really means giving life and healing. And then, not stealing means to give generously. Focus of one's bodily


energies on the quest for the absolute through human relationships and through love and through and so forth. But this is also a positive capacity to enter into the appropriate intimacy with everyone in some way. We can find a basis for intimacy even among strangers in the sense of compassion, universal compassion, universal friendship, readiness to welcome the other and the difference that there is between us. That's the positive side. And then, this lightness of touch that respects the integrity of persons and things. And then, there's... these are the positive ones. These are the ones that are called the precepts. But now, really, shaucha, shaucha is cleanliness. And it refers, of course, in practice, in yoga practice, frequent bathing, regular bowel habits and so forth. And all of this has been


secularized in the West and that is very good. You know, common sense, practical measures, keep your health and so forth and care for your body and so forth. But what in the tradition that is, I would say, most closest to the tradition of Jesus, the tantric tradition in the yoga lineages and the tradition of Jesus is this elimination of all concept of ritual purity. And, of course, it creeps in by the back door, sometimes even the front door. But this notion of ritual purity, that there are things or persons that you don't touch, that you have to be wary of. And this is a great concern in many traditions. Of course, the Jewish people have the kosher laws and the Hindu people have their abstinence


from, mostly from meat in general, but especially from cow's meat and things like that. And there's a meaning there, there's a pedagogy, an instruction there, but ultimately one must be free from these constrictions and so forth. So this cleanliness in yoga is actually a purification of our consciousness from all sense, from any sense that any kind of food, any kind of material object, our own bodies, our people of different, different people, of all different ethnicities or what not. Let's see, could you join the circle, there's a couple of places empty there and we can feel all of the energy flowing around and also for questions if you have any. And so that's very important. Jesus, of course, declares


that all foods are clean. Nothing that goes into a human being can make us unfit for worship, is really the word that he used really means in Hebrew means unfit for worship. And nothing, and then he himself revealed to Peter that this extends to people especially, you know, so the prejudice about going into the home of a non-Jewish person was eliminated, you know. Peter realized this and went and met with his family that was just waiting for him to come and pay them a visit. So that is the true cleanliness, is this purification of our consciousness from a sense that anything in the universe is in some way inappropriate


for God. Everything can be offered to God, everything, everything. And so the worship of God is the worship that gathers in all that we have in the universe, all that we have in our bodies, in our life, in our experience, in our relationships, all of this, and bringing them to the consciousness of God. And of course, naturally all of this goes through the process of transformation of consciousness. There's a consciousness that can make things, by thinking about them wrongly, you know, make things seem to be good. And then the other term, santosha. Santosha means contentment, and today this is a kind of a green consciousness, and also the slow consciousness, slow movement, slow food, slow fashion, here are those, you know, some of your own, you know, fresh vegetables from your own garden, that sort of thing, you know, all of this, this contentment is a characteristic of the yogi. And now, you


know, it's really a social dynamic. And then the last three, at the beginning of this chapter, verse 2, these are called kriya yoga, and this was the term that Yogananda used for his main practice, spiritual practice. So kriya yoga is tapasvadhyayahitra-pranitam, and those mean tapas. It sounds a bit like the English word tepid, but tepid is from the Latin, which means tepor, which means heat. And so this is fervor, this is the warming of your heart to the practice. And then it also means in yoga language, it means the outward practices of yoga, that is asana, pranayama, and pratyahara. Pranayama is a


use of breath as a yogic practice, and the pratyahara is working on senses to withdraw them from outward objects and into a deeper consciousness of the universe through an inward perception, an inner perception from within. So these are the three outward practices that are under the term tapasvadhyayahitra. In Christian spirituality, we're developing a great deal of what is called lectio divina, and that means a spiritual or divine reading of the Bible especially, but also of other ancient teachings that are associated with the Bible, whether Jewish or Christian, and then the words of the liturgy, the songs, the gestures, the prayers that we use in the liturgy. And so we use this for lectio divina,


and then of course in the ecumenical spirit, we can include also the sacred texts from other traditions. We can do lectio divina, even as Christians, upon the Bhagavad Gita. And Fr. B. Griffiths published an entire book of his reading of the Bhagavad Gita. It's the most complete Christian commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is called the Gospel of Hinduism. It's the most widely read sacred text in the Hindu tradition. And the book we have in the bookstore, if you want, from B. Griffiths, the River of Compassion is the title, River of Compassion, a Christian commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. So this svadhyayah is reflection on your traditions, on what has been handed down to you by your teachers. And it's a personal thing. It's not simply, you know, trying to memorize the


catechism, or being able to repeat what is considered orthodox doctrine. But it is interiorizing these teachings, taking them into your heart, and really seeing in what sense, in what way I can make them my own. And finally, Ishvara Pranidhana. Ishvara is one of the names of God in Sanskrit. And so it means, actually it means prostration to God. It means abandonment to God, self-surrender to God. And that's very interesting because there isn't much teaching about God in the Yoga Sutras. But there is this name for God, and then this is the conclusion of this first part of Yoga. But it's also the governing part. And you could say that the beginning and the end include all the others. So the beginning is ahimsa, and the end is


abandonment to the divine. The total surrender to the ultimate, to the absolute. And when we learn to live like this, we are yogis. This is what it means to be a yogi. We are in union. Yoga is joining, it is union. And so we are in union with all beings and with the absolute ultimate being of God. So that is, you might say all yoga is included there, because this as I say includes our asana practice, and pranayama, and pratyahara which is work on the senses. Well, it doesn't mean, it can mean, and part of it is, you know, closing your eyes, and then there's what they call the gesture of light. There's your, these two fingers here, close your mouth, close your nose, close your eyes, close your


ears. But the purpose is to help us to listen. And we can hear, you see the wonderful thing about the human brain, and neuroscience of course is making great claims today, and they're wonderful discoveries, but they're claims that, oh, well, there's no reality consciousness, it's just the buzz in the neurons, you know, it's just this electrical click, [...] it's a mechanical thing, it's materialistic, this materialistic ideology. I mean, this is pure ideology. So this is claptrap. So it's not science. Science is doubt. Have I understood? Is there something more that I can know about it? But when these so-called scientists, I mean, even Dawkins, and Hitchens, and all of the other famous company say that we know it, we prove it, we got it, they're just dogmatists. They're fundamentalists. You know? And when they put them on television, who's on the other


side of the table? Some very conservative Christian, you know, fundamentalist Christian, you know, so that makes for wonderful, a wonderful show, you know, the fundamentalist atheist scientist and the fundamentalist Christian, you know. But what we can realize is that our brain does wonderful things, and they're not tricks, but they are ways that expand our consciousness, because when there isn't sensory input, our brain itself generates for its sound. I remember the evening that I discovered the sound of silence. And I read about this cosmic old, you know, in the writings of Yogananda and other yoga writings. And then finally, you know, I found it was late at evening, and they had left the, forgotten it in Occidental Congress in Los Angeles, they had forgotten, left the back door open to the forum hall


with some big auditorium, beautiful auditorium, wonderful acoustics, great acoustics. And so I went in there and got up on the stage, and I heard the silence. It came from within, you know, and I realized this, I read something about the brain and so forth, but then to actually experience this, when you're in a very, very silent place, your brain will generate for you this kind of, they call it white noise, but it's the sound that includes all possible sounds. It comes from within you, there is a physical connection, there's the connection of the body with the physical brain, but it is our consciousness which is opening to the infinity of sound in the universe. And the same with, you know, in darkness, some people, you know, going through these isolation tanks, you know, what's his name,


John Lilly, wrote a book about his own experience, you know, where you float in this thing, and it's all closed and everything, and the brain will give you light. And the same with other aspects. But all of this is simply a sign that our senses are made to perceive much more than that which is just around us physically. And that our senses can also be, if we, you know, if we focus our attention on them, it can also be a way into the infinite, into the infinite. Yeah? I just wanted to add in the realm of neuroscience that there are some neuroscientists who are actually doing interesting stuff like Davidson at the University of Wisconsin has tested some of the Dalai Lama's monks who've been meditating for 30 years and found that their brainwave patterns are so far more advanced as far as happiness and contentment than anyone


ever tested like that. Frontal asymmetry, which is seen in people who are blissfully happy and they've got a lot of gamma, which is the 40 hertz, which could be part of the connection with God that the fundamentalist neuroscientists are not talking about. But I enjoy so much, you know, this input that comes from real serious science, you know, which is seeking and always doubting, you know. So the great methodological doubt that is the spring that gets science, real science started and helps us discover. But then science itself is self-challenging because it realizes the limits of any line of investigation as we reach a certain point where there is something mysterious. And there may not be


an answer, a scientific answer as we would say, but this doesn't mean that we're just simply to drop it and not occupy our minds with the mystery. If we see a mystery, that means that it's for us to contemplate, you know, and to connect with. So, and we were talking about grace. You can say that everything in our nature is grace. So the fire in the neurons, this wonderful, the sound and the music and the light and the color that wells up from within us and represents for us really a contact with the universe, this is the divine within us speaking to us. And it is a gift. Grace is gift. And


grace is, grace is our nature. Grace is the indwelling of God in our nature by power, by power, by presence, relationship, and by essence. It is the essence. The essence of God is simply to be. And to be is to be in relationship. And that's the meaning of in Christian teaching, that God is subsistent relationships. This procession of the word or the divine child, the son, son of God, and the procession of the Holy Spirit, the


holy breath of God. And then this flowing communion among the three persons. And this is also our nature. Our nature as human beings is as an image of God. We are subsistent relations. We do not exist other than related. And our existence is a relationship that may be wounded, difficult, but a human being is human because a human being is related and can relate and can also grow and heal relationships. So we all experience different qualities in a relationship. We all have suffered and we all have discovered the beauty of relating and the beauty of love and the communion that can arise. Even the discovery that people whom we have never met before, we can have something wonderful in common with that person. And then this


itself is our being. It's the enhancement of our being and so forth. Because we are made for that. We are made for this relating, this flowing love. Any other questions? Now yoga in the traditions of India is always quite concrete. So there are specific practices. And of course every school of thought in India has its own yoga. The yoga sutras are based upon one school of thought. And this is for practical didactic reasons. The school of thought is called Sathya. It is the philosophy of categories. And it is a dualistic philosophy.


It's very interesting that this is the first philosophy of India and yet it is the philosophy that has been continually challenged because everything in the history of Indian thought has pointed towards the one. We must discover the one. And also this duality of spirit and nature. That's what Sathya talks about. Spirit and nature. It's something that we need to see through because there has to be a one that includes spirit and nature. Also because we experience in our own selves this physical material dimension, our bodies, our outer senses. But also the spiritual dimension, the psyche, the mind, the intuition, the heart. The heart's natural love, which in India is called Bhakti. But yoga is always a practice


that concretizes a view of life. And there are so many different schools in India. And of course the principle there is that all of the schools are welcome. All teachers can have their space. And teachers are made teachers not because they have a university degree or because they have some title, academic title, but the guru is made by the disciple. There's the saying of the disciples really, the guru will appear. But that's because the disciple herself or himself makes the guru. The disciple comes to usually an older person, a person of experience, and says, and asks, will you be my guru? And places an offering at the feet of the person. And if the person accepts, then the person is guru. And this is a very


deep and intense relationship. And it doesn't necessarily mean the communication of ideas or even of the practices of yoga, but that comes of itself in a way. And you have a lineage also. There's a sense of the lineage of gurus, which is not a hierarchy. The transmission of Indian culture, it's very interesting, has been guaranteed down through thousands and thousands and thousands of years, not by some kind of pyramidal hierarchical structure of authorities and sub-authorities and so on and so on. This is the Western way. Whereas in India, it is by way of this network of gurus. They maybe didn't have organized school systems, but if somebody really wanted to learn something, he would go looking for a guru. Excuse me for using the masculine, because in fact it is a patriarchal society


and it's the male who goes out and looks for a teacher. But sometimes the women can also find wise women teachers and become very wise themselves. So there is a lineage, grandmother and mother and so forth and auntie, passing down the lore that the women can learn. And also some great teachers open their doors to women as well as men, and yoga is also made available that way. But to learn anything, to learn a trade, it's all the same as learning yoga. This too, a guru. Find a guru when you are ready and then you learn. Whereas in modern times, and it's very important in the West, in Yogananda realized this, he did organize something and then the organization took on its own life and there is a lot of


people who appreciate what Yogananda had to say, but they are not terribly fond of the organizations that purport to speak in his name. I don't want to get into any argument about that. Be that as it may, there are many different ways that a teaching can be transmitted. And I love the one-on-one idea. Yogananda, as a young guru, initiated someone in a train station. There was a young man, came up to him and said, you will be my guru. Okay, you know, and let's just find a corner of the train station where there isn't too much noise and I will teach you how to meditate. And he taught him Kriya Yoga. So that is also a way of transmission. Books are wonderful. Books are teachers too. So there is this other side which also has meaning and importance, which suggests that


there should be a certain sacredness and a certain discipline about the transmission of practice. Also, so that the person who learns will not be learning out of mere curiosity, but will learn and put into practice what has been learned. I might say that being here in the Hermitage with the prayer, the liturgy, the symbolism, the nature around us, and all of this, creates a sacred atmosphere. So this is an initiatory experience for all of us, myself included, because I consider myself as a learner, even though I had learned many years ago certain practices. Questions? Do you live here? I don't live here. I live up in Berkeley. We have a smaller community in Berkeley.


It offers quiet rooms for people in the city. So it's the same basic spirit, the same rule, we say observance, and observe the different practices, the schedule, but the same basic spirit. It's called the Incarnation Monastery. My question is, under the term practicality, and what you're saying about the philosophy and teaching that happens in Indian houses, what comes into my mind is how does this affect the caste system and poverty and the incredible, what word can I say, corruption that seems to be apparent throughout the Indian culture on an economic level? Can you bring those two together in some way? Yeah. Certainly this is, and there are many great teachers who have been deeply aware of this and have dedicated themselves, especially to education, developing alternative forms


of education accessible to people of all castes and all social economic status in India. And there's the Ramakrishna Mission, free schools and things like this. Yogananda himself started a school in Bihar. So often the yogis will be concerned to express their sense, the fruits of their meditation, their practice, their discipline in the uplift of the people. At the same time, there's something that takes place on a more mysterious and deeper level. And where one individual is enlightened and liberated, this liberates to a certain degree


all of humanity. The illumination of one is light for all of humanity. So there's sometimes a mysterious overflow that is not immediately visible. I personally see it in a certain development of India as an exemplary form of democracy, corrupt in many ways, but at the same time that has given voice to its thousand million people to express the will for a fair, just and tolerant society. Very important, these last parliamentary elections just a couple of months ago. So with all of the problems that India faces, there's also a wonderful energy there. And I think it has to be ascribed to a considerable extent to its spiritual persons,


Mahatma Gandhi of course is the father of India. And he himself emphasized the value of meditation. He was a yogi. So obviously these are serious issues within the Indian society, the position of women. And yet I myself have seen the emerging of women as teachers and as spokespersons for the highest spiritual values of India. It was very interesting one occasion in Assisi in Italy, there's a lay association, it's not exactly like a monastic order, but something like that, but a group of lay volunteers that have a conference center in Assisi in Italy, and it's called the Cittadella, the Citadel, and they offer wonderful gatherings,


ecumenical gatherings there. And I remember one time I was present in a conference that brought together representatives of the main religious and spiritual traditions of humanity. There was Hinduism, and there was Buddhism, and there was Islam, and there was Judaism, and there was Christianity. And it so happened, it was, you know, you could say by chance, but really it was planned that way, that all of the speakers for the Hindu contributions were women. There was Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter, there was a woman guru, a woman yogi, and a couple of others. This was, for me this was a very important sign, a very important sign. So this also is evolving in India.


And I think that every nation will have its own way. Some will be a revolutionary break with the past, some will be a more gradual evolution, which I think is the way of India, moving into the future while bringing the past along with it. And this of course is typical of India, that you can see all of India's history as it were like the layers and layers, geological layers in the Grand Canyon. I've been to the Grand Canyon and seen pictures of it. You know, all of these different colored layers, you know, and these are visible. The same is true in many ways of India, its spiritual layers, you know. Everything that was in India still is, somewhere, somehow. Even in the villages, there's still enough of the Neolithic technology.


In other words, how can you live a good, wholesome human life using the means that nature gives you and principles such as the wheel, the lever, and fire? You know, basic things like that. And they very often do that. So India has its own journey, but I see that there is this development in India. What is, if any, is the interest in the spiritual tradition among young people in India? The people who have IT jobs in Bangalore and Mumbai. Is it still, to what degree is the tradition still present in their lives and how has that changed? It's changing a great deal and of course there is this, there is a process of secularization.


There is also a political choice involved here. A matter of public policy that the nation should be a secular nation so that all of the different religious and spiritual and social traditions can have their place within a pluralistic society without conflict, with respect and tolerance one for the other. Like Singapore? Like? Like Singapore? Well, Singapore is also a part of the Indian influence of South Asia. Chinese is an important element there, but it is true that Malaysia and Singapore represent something of this, and also Bali in Indonesia, represent something of this Indian spirit. It's the spirit of the Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, the common era. Who promoted this understanding of respect for each other's dharma, each other's teachings and spiritual traditions.


But among young people, what I find is that sometimes the stimulus, the initial stimulus for a surge comes by way of the West. There is this kind of return, India going out to the West, being transformed in its language and in its expression and coming back to India. Yogananda himself did this. He left India, he went to the United States, he established his fellowship in California and then he went back to India and organized it there. But I've seen this also in, for instance, the schools and courses in Buddhist insight meditation. And Buddhism, of course, comes from India, but it was reabsorbed. It was transmuted into the common Hindu tradition.


So Buddha becomes one of the manifestations of Vishnu, one of the manifestations of Brahma. And Buddhism is included where you have yoga, where you have sannyasa, the renunciation, or the practice of non-violence and so forth. But Buddhism as an organized reality is no longer of any great importance in India, and yet there are these courses and schools that have been developed in India. The promoter, his name is on the tip of my tongue, I can't remember his name. Krishnanendra? No, that's one of them, but there's this series of, I think he's still living. But anyway, he was a teacher, he was a low-caste Hindu who embraced Buddhism and then promoted all over India these courses in insight meditation or Vipassana, which is related to what is called the Theravada tradition of Buddhism,


sort of Southern Buddhism. So this is one way in which the young people of India recover their own roots. You would say that this was also the case of people like Sri Aurobindo. Aurobindo was raised, his native language was English. His family did not want him to, and by the way, he was a cousin, there were distant cousins by great-great-grandfather, I think. So Aurobindo was raised in a household where everyone spoke English. He was sent to English-speaking schools, all of his schooling was in English. He was sent to Britain, to England, to do his university studies. He came back to his native Bengal and he started studying Sanskrit. And Bengal, the language of his people, Bengalese.


And of course, then he became a great sage and a great teacher through his writings. But that is also an interesting story, which is, I think, symptomatic of the way that India has somehow given of itself to the West and then recovered itself in some mysterious way from the West. So let's come back to yoga, and I wanted to, any more questions? This is more, a little bit of history, a little bit of theory, and that's also useful. A very basic practice that you may already know, but I would suggest that we learn this together. It's a practice that I've known for many years, a practice for many years,


and yet I think there's something that I find in my own yoga practice that each time is like the first time. Because each breath should be taken as a gift, as a grace, as if it were your first breath and your last breath. And give thanks for the breath that is within you. And one way to do this is to become conscious of your breathing, and here we can sit in this, the position of Maitreya. And be very focused, or if you want to remain with your legs crossed, that's fine too. But focused, calm, steady, and pleasant. That's what the Yoga Sutra says about asanas. The only thing the Yoga Sutra says, So it should be steady, and it should be pleasant.


Like a land rock. And you become conscious of breathing. Breathing. And do we all know how to breathe? We might know how to breathe. We maybe need to learn how to breathe. I guess most of us know how to breathe. But of course breathing starts with the abdomen. And the diaphragm pushes down, and therefore the abdomen pushes out a little bit, and that opens up the lungs. You don't breathe with your shoulders, you don't breathe with your sternum. Breathing up here, you know, doesn't really nourish your lungs.


So it has to start down here. Follow the breathing. Try to make it a circular breathing. So that the in-breath and the out-breath are almost equal. You don't have to count. But have this feeling that your breathing is in a continual circle, without any click. You know, the epiglottis shouldn't click. You shouldn't interrupt the flow of breath when you move from the in-breath to the out-breath. It should be almost imperceptible. You're breathing in, and then at a certain point you're breathing out. You're breathing out, and then at a certain point you start breathing in again. So there's this constant circular breathing. And just do that, just be aware. In-breath


Out-breath In-breath Out-breath In-breath Out-breath You don't need to turn, you don't need to swallow.


It's a good thing also to wait until you breathe out, and then you can swallow if you need to swallow your saliva. And then start breathing in again. Yoga has taught, according to the tantric tradition, that you start with the in-breath. There are other traditions that say you start with the out-breath. But Veda hasn't made it. It's like the military, when they start marching, it's left, right, left, right. Whereas when you're in a liturgical procession, you're supposed to start right, left, right, left, they say. But in this case, I think it's good to think of the in-breath as the first, and then the out-breath as the response. And as you breathe in, you think of a certain syllable.


And as you breathe out, you think of another syllable. And let me write these circles for you. The vowel A is the neutral vowel. It is up, up, short, and neutral, up. So it is huh, huh. What is the sound that someone makes if you wake them suddenly? Huh? Huh? Huh? So, huh? And that's with the in-breath. And sa is the out-breath. And you pronounce these mentally. Now, these are not sounds that you need to say at any point.


But just simply realize that these sounds accompany, respectively, the in-breath and the out-breath. Huh? In-breath. So, huh? Let's try it. Huh? Okay.


Okay. [...] to aid in focus, attention, consciousness, awareness, and no problem if we kind of lose track of it, in a moment of distraction, our intention is to keep focused, and so when


we realize this, we're not remembering the mantra, we come back to the mantra, simple as that. So, this is an ongoing process and depends also on how we feel in the moment, you know, so it's not something that can ever be perfect, and yet on the other hand, it's always good, it is always helpful. So there's also one other important thing in this, and this goes back certainly to the very earliest centuries of the common era, the Christian era, this practice, or the Hansa, breathing, there's a very ancient text which was being quoted as an ancient text in the 10th century, so it goes way back before that. So, it is specifically indicated as not having any reference either to a specific philosophy


or a specific form of worship. It's not the name of a deity, it is not a philosophical term, sometimes later writers, even today you'll find this in some textbooks, they turn the syllables around in order to give it a philosophical meaning, and that could be good, I don't say wrong, but you've probably seen this. So, Han, so Han, which means I am he, I, the Han is I, and se is he. So, Han is put together as a single word like that, so Han, but this reverses the energy, it's a different kind of energy, whereas this has no connection either with philosophy or with ritual, but it's simply a kind of inner ritual which corresponds simply with our nature.


So, just remember, Han is the in-breath, se is the out-breath, as ascent and descent, that's a visualization, obviously, that accompanies the use of the mantras, and so, when we say Han inwardly, we conceive of energy coming from the depth and ascending, and when we mentally say se, we conceive of the energy coming down from the height, so you could say that this corresponds with nature, and this with grace, and the two are one, because it is a breath, so, rising and descending, that's all the visualization, just a few minutes,


time is flying, so, just a couple minutes, but we'll sit and practice and then visualize ascending and descending, Han, se, in-breath, out-breath. So, so, so,


so, so, so,


so, so, so,


In the main text that teaches this practice, called the Vijnana Bhairava mantra, it is said that this is the mantra that comes from the nature of our breath, it is the breath's own mantra, it's not as if it were something that we use this mental attention, and this mental recitation to accompany our breathing, but this is actually coming from the breathing itself, and I've often wondered about that, if there had ever been a scientific study of this, and in fact, I, by chance, listened to a program on television that spoke about the investigation of what the child in the womb experiences, you know, what are the sounds


that the child hears, some external sounds, voices, and so it's suggested that perhaps the child begins language learning before birth, hearing the language spoken by the parents and people around them, by the mother and people around her, and then also they used, you know, tiny microphones inserted inside the body, and recorded the sound of the mother's breathing, and it's precisely this. So this sound is in fact this natural sound of breathing heard from within, and how the yogis learned that? Well, they learned it, and they taught it. So that's also important. And you could say that this is a basic principle that can be applied to any yoga practice. Yoga is good when it comes from nature and


reinforces nature, and that's why we realize, you know, if we do something, some asana or even some breath exercise or whatever, that somehow makes us uncomfortable, hurts us, it's okay if puts us to sleep, that's always good. But I mean, if it creates some problem, then there's something there that isn't, it isn't true yoga, because it's not fully in harmony with our nature. And also, yoga harmonizes our natural existence with the broader nature, the wider nature of the human beings and the planet and the universe. So this harmony with nature is very important. There's one other mental projection which is added to this, and this is very tantric. The tantric traditions make use of the symbolism of the houses, male and female.


And the incoming breath is male, and the outgoing breath and the descent of Shakti is female. Shakti is visualized, symbolized as feminine. The divine energy in eastern Christian tradition is the, are the attributes of the divine that come directly from the essence into creation, and they're associated in a special way with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, I mean, the use of the male pronoun, people are beginning to remember the fact that spirit


in Hebrew and in Aramaic, Aramaic language that Jesus spoke, is feminine. The word is feminine. We don't have this usage in the English language, but if you know any Spanish, you know that there are masculine words and feminine words on all the persons. And so, Ruach, Hebrew, Ruach, Aramaic are feminine words. In Greek, noun is neuter. In Latin, spiritus is ambiguous. You don't know whether it's male or female, because it's declined in the same way as manus. Manus is, in the US, it's the hand. Genitive, manus. But it's feminine. You know, usually words that end in US in Latin are masculine, but this is feminine. Spiritus, declined in the same way. Feminine? Yes,


I think it can be. So even in terms of Latin, the Latin lexicon. But be that as it may, I think this is something that from a Christian standpoint, we would do well to recover. When Jesus said spirit, he thought feminine. And you see the symbolism also in the Bible, the symbol of the dove. And dove in all the different languages is always feminine. So the nature that rises as the masculine energy, then receives the descent of the masculine energy. And the descent of the feminine energy. And the descent of the masculine energy


fills the air with flames of incandescent terror, a phrase of Jesus, the descending dove. The shakti, the descent of the shakti, the divine energy. The descent of the spirit, that is separate flames on each one, and yet one spirit. That's the symbolism of Pentecost, of course, is each individual has their own divine flame descending on the head of each one, and yet it's only one fire. So let us continue now with this further visualization. In the beginning it's a little complicated. Syllables, descending, descending, male and female, but then it all comes together, because this is a kind of universal symbolism, it's kind of archetypal as we say, and it responds to our own psychic instinct.


So let us continue with this practice. With the breathing, descending, descending, male, female. Nature and grace of spirit. So so Okay.


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]


Okay. [...]