April 15, 2014

The Real Inner Temple

It is good and very grand to conquer external nature, but grander still to conquer the internal nature of man. It is grand and good to know the laws that govern the stars and planets; it is infinitely grander and better to know the laws that govern the passions, the feelings, the will, of mankind. This conquering of the inner man, understanding the secrets of the subtle workings that are within the human mind, and knowing its wonderful secrets, belong entirely to religion.  
-- Swami Vivekananda   (The Necessity of Religion - Jnana Yoga 1902 edition)

We should never for­get that our real objective is to enshrine the Lord in the heart of every man in the world, for the real tem­ple of the Lord is the human heart. There within the heart of every man the ground has to be con­se­crated, for it has been defiled by the pro­fan­ity of worldly desires and plea­sures. There on that con­se­crated ground let the tem­ple of Divine Com­mu­nion be raised and the over­flow­ing bliss of the Supreme Good reign. Infi­nite Bliss from within, that is the idea. Let the devo­tee be flooded over by this Bliss from within. Preach­ing is real only when this Bliss pro­vides for its own preach­ing. One devo­tee over­flow­ing from within with this Divine Bliss is worth a mil­lion dol­lars of pro­pa­gan­dist devices. One real tem­ple raised in the human heart is worth dozens of tem­ples built out­side. Remem­ber that our objective is really to raise the tem­ple from within. I pray that our Lord may shower His bless­ings upon you more and more, as He is doing, till your life becomes per­vaded through and through by a blessed­ness which is His love, which is He Him­self. May you be sub­merged in the real­ity of His Pres­ence. With lov­ing bless­ings to all,

Yours in the Lord,
Swami Pre­m­ananda

April 1, 2014

In the Glow

Silence.... Is the beginning and end of yoga meditation work. Sitting in silence enables us to begin to know the symphony that is present inside ourselves. Really there is no silence as we will learn when we try to sit in meditation. Our heart beats, respiration, nervous, digestive and circulatory systems all create a myriad of sounds, a mini celestial orchestra, that we can become aware of through silence. Listening is an active activity, as opposed to hearing which is a passive activity. Listening involves using our ears as an organ of consciousness to discriminate between the sounds around us. By sitting in silence it enables us to empower the act of listening. When we sit in this manner we also become aware of natures external sounds, birds chirping, wind blowing, dogs barking, clocks ticking or the hum of electrical sounds. But it is through the simple act of sitting silently in meditation and tuning into the inner world of sounds that we truly change the way our everyday perceptions and brainwaves work. In meditation we learn how to detach ourselves from the sense organs. Meditation is the time to look and listen to understand our suffering. Finally we experience an openness that helps us to realize our interconnectedness to all things.  

Swami Vivekananda writes:
"First sit for some time and let the mind run on. The mind is bubbling up all the time; it is like the monkey jumping about. Let the monkey jump as much as he can, simply wait and watch; knowledge is power, says the proverb, and that is true; until you know what the mind is doing, you cannot control it. Give it the rein. Many hideous thoughts may come into it, you will be astonished that it was possible for you to think such thoughts, but you will find that each day the mind’s vagaries are becoming fewer, and less violent; that each day it is becoming calmer. In the first few months, you will find that the mind will have a great many thoughts; later you will find that they have somewhat decreased, and in a few more months you will find they are fewer and fewer, until at last the mind will be under perfect control. But we must patiently practice every day."

This is where Arati/Vespers comes in handy. From my own experience, I find Vespers a very effective way to transition from my busy work day into the contemplative state of evening meditation. While sitting in the silence of the temple, I listen to the Santa Barbara Vedanta Society Nuns sing three beautiful Sanskrit hymns and become a watchful witness to the closing ritual of dusk. This allows my soul to unload much of it's hurried material world burdens and relax in the loving unity of the oneness.