How do the practices of Ashtanga Yoga carry over into the world when we
have so many things to do and can't spend all day observing all the limbs?
Yama and Niyama, restraints and observances: they are in our every-day life. It's
called spiritual life. Asana is exercise. For good health, you have to move around.
Pranayama don't need several hours. Do simple breathing exercises for 10-15
minutes. Meditation: just sit for 10 minutes and don't think about the world. So it is
all 45 minutes. If you have more time, then you can increase your practices.
If my true Self is already liberated and needs no liberation, can I just leave my
ego alone to enjoy itself?
If the ego is having a good time, then it's creating its trap. It's attached and
addicted to good time; it is not liberated state. 'When the ego is left alone' means it
is desire less. Desireless ego dwells in eternal peace and that is liberated state.
I hear so much about not wanting to be here or not wanting to be in a body.
Everyone tells us to be light; but I am heavy. This makes me feel disturbed.
In our spiritual journey, what is the vehicle? The mind-body complex. If this mind-
body complex is in good shape, then it will work better. So first duty is to keep it in
a good shape. Then we have to find out which way to go. It's in a good shape but
goes to a wrong direction. That is not good. Right direction we get by 1) satsang
(association with others on the spiritual path), 2) swadhyaya (self-study and study
of scriptures), 3) sadhana (spiritual practice), 4) selfless service. Not wanting to be
here or in the body means no wanting to live in a state of ignorance. In the state of
ignorance, the person is always living in fear, anger, pain, etc. That's why we say
'I don't want to be here.'
How do we understand spiritual progress?
Progress is known when there is a comparison. If two airplanes are high up in the
sky and one is ahead, then we can see it. But if one airplane is flying up in high
altitudes by itself, then we don't feel anything about the speed and progress.
Spiritual progress is not known in this way by comparison with others. We can only
say if our mind is non-attached. That's our indication of progress. If our mind is
developing selflessness, not craving for worldly things and feeling contented more,
that indicates progress.
I am a performing artist. Is there a contradiction between getting fulfilled with
my art which involves pleasing an audience and the practices of Yoga?
You can do all those things but with an awareness that that is not your real aim. In
the theater, you live the same kind of life. You play the part of a king. You come
home and you don't feel like a king. In the art world, you are a different person
who is working for others' satisfaction but other times, you are working for your
The component of a person's ego which causes us to want to live a spiritual life,
how is that different from other aspects of ego?
Ego means duality. I am indicates there is something else. It's duality. What
happens when the notion of I am disappears? The bucket of water from the
ocean is sitting on the beach and someone pours it back in the ocean. There is only
ocean, no separate bucket of water. We can explain it by saying ocean and bucket
because both are perceptibles. When the universal ego is unknown and not
perceptible, then we can't explain exactly what happens. The ego wants two things:
1) worldly experience, 2) liberation fro the worldliness. When the ego sees the
worldly enjoyments are momentary and the result is pain, then one seeks for
spiritual path. The ego which is seeking for spiritual path and the ego which is
seeking for worldly life are very different. The ego which is seeking for worldly life
is rooted in desires, attachment, selfishness, etc. The ego which is seeking for
spiritual life is reducing desires, attachments, etc.
If we try to restrain ourselves from violence in our waking state, does the
negativity or violence that we experience in our dreams change over time?
What is the difference between awakened and dream state? Dreams are caused by
desires, imagination and memory. Awakened state also functions by these three
and also creates more memories for the dreams to manifest. The violent dream is
not separate from your awakened state. In awakened state the mind is distracted so
you are not aware of those thoughts. In meditation or dream, the mind is blocked
from getting distracted by several sense perceptions. So the memory is seen very
active. It presents many past events which you are not aware of. Why in meditation
all worldly thoughts appear? They don't appear. They are there. Only identified
more. If we are living a spiritual life then all our actions, thoughts, speech will be
spiritual. In our dream the memory of spiritual life will start predominating and
violence will start decreasing.
The path to selflessness is very tricky. What is the clearest way to get there?
The path of selflessness is hard when the mind is too involved in the world. It is
easy when the mind shifts to devotion to God. Tulsi Dass writes O Lord, like a
passionate man loves his wife, like a miserly person clings to wealth; in the same
way I may feel love to God. The two examples give the feeling of intensity of love
in a worldly sense. But if this same intensity of love is felt for God, that is devotion.
A person who is devoted to God gradually develops non-attachment to one's own
needs and thinks more about others who are in need. Such a person works for the
good of others with no selfish intent.
How can one be in a devoted attached relationship and also be devoted to God
at the same time?
The union of matter and spirit is Yoga. In that union there is attachment and the
purpose of this union is evolution. The same principle is in a devoted relationship.
If they live a spiritual life together with one aim and purpose of life, then they are
devoted to God.
If we have been practicing Yoga as a householder, are there yogic practices we
can learn now to practice in the dying process to pass to a higher place?
What happens at the time of death? The five elements get very active and change
very fast. Create colors, patterns, human or demon forms, and the mind gets
confused. Keeping memory of God depends on regular practice of spiritual life.
When the divine form is soaked in the mind, then divine presence will be there at
the time of death.
Does a religion that uses as an object of worship a human figure who lived
create more traps for the ego than a religion which uses mantras or symbols?
Forms or deities are reminders. Make a red circle and hang it in your room. Tell
yourself, whenever I see the red circle I will remember God. You go out and
forget everything. You come in your room and the red circle reminds you. So these
forms we have accepted are reminders of God in our lives. The forms are not God
but they bring the thought of God. In devotional path, God incarnates in human form
are worshipped. It is a dualistic method of worship. In mantra and symbols, the
mind goes to non-dual state. If the mind develops fanaticism in dualistic path, then
the ego can create more ignorance.
How is the samadhi state different from a state of deep sleep? In both the
thought of I am is gone.
In deep sleep you lose outer consciousness and inner mind stops. You wake up and
everything appears again as it was before. In samadhi, you lose outer consciousness.
The mind stops but when you come out of that state you obtain knowledge of two
things: 1) reality, 2) dispassion for unreality. If samadhi doesn't bring knowledge
and dispassion, then it is no better than the sleep.
© 1998 Sri Rama Publishing
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