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SEVEN STAGES OF PURIFICATION

There are seven stages of transcendental purification and elevation that take place when we chant the holy names of Krishna. Let’s understand the significance and relevance of these stages.

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T here are seven stages of transcendental purification and elevation that takes place when we chant the Holy Names of Krishna. Those who are sincere to make progress in Krishna consciousness should carefully understand this.

FIRST PURIFICATION

 Ceto darpanam marjanam Lord Caitanya begins by chanting Ceto darpanam marjanam. The congregational chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord cleanses the mirror of our consciousness. Originally we are all pure Krishna conscious entities. Mamai vamsa jiva loke, jiva bhuta sanatana. Jiva soul is part and parcel of the supreme soul, Krishna. As it is said, nithya, siddha, krsna, prema, sadhya, kabhu and naya. The pure love of Krishna is within the heart of every living being. Ecstatic bliss is waithin the heart of every living being. But somehow the consciousness, which is compared to the mirror, has been covered with layers and layers of dust. Why is Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu comparing consciousness to the mirror? It is because the function of the mirror is to reflect the true identity and the nature of our own self. When we look in the mirror, we do not expect to see someone else. It is reflecting the real beauty of our self. The soul is unlimitedly beautiful because it is qualitatively one with Krishna, Who is the supreme beauty. Krishna explains one spark of His beauty is creating all the intoxication for pleasure within this entire material existence. Far greater than the perverted reflection of the spark within this material universe is the soul. Factually the beauty of one infinitesimal jivatma within any species of life has more qualitative beauty and enchantment than all the things within this entire cosmic manifestation, all the way up to the Brahma loka. What is the beauty of a soul that we cannot even imagine? It is part and parcel of Krishna, the all beautiful. When we look into the mirror, we are supposed to see the reflection of our self. The nature of our consciousness is to be the mirror of the very nature of our soul. Our soul is meant to love Krishna and to feel the ecstasy of loving Krishna. But it is covered by layers and layers of dust that has been accumulated birth after birth. And so we cannot see who we are or what we are meant to be. All we see is that dust. Lord Caitanya explains what that dust is — it is all of our selfish, egoistic desires to want to enjoy this material existence. It is the dust of lust. We have so many ambitions, aspirations of how we will enjoy. We are intoxicated by the illusory phantasmagoria of so-called beautiful things of this world, which are compared to mirages. We are chasing after these mirages birth after birth looking for happiness but finding no real satisfaction. When that is unfulfilled, we often become very angry and frustrated. Our selfish desires are not satisfied, so we want to blame someone else or something. And we make so many offences. And if somehow or other we get a little bit of pleasure in this material world, we are not satisfied. We want more and more. So we become greedy which is another species of dust. Krishna explains, just like fire, what will satisfy a fire? The more fuel you put in, the hungrier it becomes. The more you have, the more you become greedy for more and more. And if somehow or another someone has something you want or something more than what you want, then the dust of envy manifests. You become hateful of that person. You are wishing and praying that this person will lose everything and suffer. You become envious. Why does he have? Why not me? I deserve. And through all of this — lust, anger, envy we become very proud of whatever little we have. Even the pauper is proud of his penny. We think we are very great and illusion we become mad by all this illusion. So this false ego, this desire to enjoy and all the by-products that come along with it and the reactions are the types of dust are that cover the mirror of the soul. Sometimes less intelligent people, frustrated in so many ways with the dissatisfaction of all the pursuits in the material life, take to a process of religion where they want to be liberated, by becoming God, which is another type of dust, bhukti, and mukti. Material enjoyment and the desire to be God are the dust that covers our heart and obscures the true blissful nature of the soul. So the first stage of chanting the holy names of the Lord removes all the dust from the mirror of the mind.

SECOND PURIFICATION

Bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam which means the chanting of the Holy Names extinguishes the forest fire of material suffering. This world is, Krishna says, dukhalayam asasvatam. It is a place of suffering. We are trying to be happy in a place of suffering.  It is just like trying to be dry when you are submerged in the ocean. Is it possible? Can you get dry when you are in the ocean? If you want to get dry, you have to get out of the ocean. So if you want to enjoy, you need to get out of this material existence. We can have only little pleasure in this material world. That pleasure is actually not meant for happiness. That pleasure is meant to keep us suffering. It is maya’s trick. She gives you enough pleasure to make you never want to leave and then you never stop suffering. Because all you want to do is to get out of material existence. Chant the names of God and go back to Godhead. So why are we staying in this material existence? Maya’s great power is The only thing that keeps us here is our desire to stay here. And she gives us these few tokens of happiness just so that we can feel oh! I like it here. It’s worth all these miseries and sufferings death after death. Just to get some nice food, touch some soft object or just watch some television. It is worth it! In this way, she keeps us in this miserable situation. But actually, this material existence is compared to a burning forest fire. What can extinguish a burning forest fire? No fire brigade has any hope. Only by the power of God, when He sends rain showers it is possible. So the chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna is like that rainstorm. What is impossible for us to do individually or what is impossible for the whole collective human society and earth to do, extinguish forest fire, can be done by Krishna’s mercy alone. Sometimes there are big forest fires. America is a very prominent country. Just a few years ago there was such a big forest fire. Thousands of acres just burned and burned. The US Army, the Navy, and all the politicians in Washington DC and the whole population of so many hundreds of millions of people in America yoga collectively and individually — there was nothing they could do about the forest fire. It was out of control. A fire that is millions of times greater is burning within our hearts. And the flames of that fire implicate us in the threefold miseries of material existence: Adhiatmika — miseries of our own body. Which has so many inconveniences, and discomforts. Like the trains in Bombay — It is Adhyatmika express. People are not happy. Rarely do you see smiling blissful faces? Everyone is hoping to get out. There is the disease. One little creature enters your body and can cause so much misery. And then there are the miseries of the mind — mental anxiety and distress and lamentation and disappointment. So many tears flow from tour eyes due to these miseries of adhyatmika. Then there are the miseries caused by others — may be our brothers and sisters, our families. Oftentimes — husbands and wives. Sometimes politicians and insects, there are so many other living beings that create suffering to the conditioned soul. Then there is adhybhautika — the miseries caused by natural disturbances be it too much heat, too much cold, too much rain or too little rain. In this material world, too much or too little of anything and you suffer. Everything has to be just right in the middle for there to be any relief or happiness. When there is a drought we pray for rain; when there is a flood we pray for drought. Let the rain come, no I changed my mind, let the rain stop. When it is too hot we are praying let there be a nice breeze. And then a frigid cyclone comes and no I changed my mind, I don’t want this breeze, let it be hot. The dualities of material existence are always there. Earthquakes, cyclones, tornados, floods etc. These are all the miseries of material nature. No one can control the infliction of the threefold misery upon us. And therefore birth after birth after birth there is so much pain, miseries. So the second stage of chanting of the Holy Name is bhava maha davagni nirvapanam. Krishna’s mercy flows as reciprocation to the chanting of the holy name, just like a rainstorm that completely extinguishes the blazing forest fire of material existence and we achieve mukti in the truest sense — in the sense, we are alleviated from all suffering forever from material existence.

This is part 1 of the three-part series.

  Gauranga Sundar Das is Iskconinc Communication Director and SM IT Head.

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Spiritually Speaking

TAKE A DEEP BREATH, BE CALM AND STEADY

If your mind is stiff, you are not mentally healthy. To attain a perfect state of health, one has to be mentally calm, steady, and emotionally strong.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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O nly a healthy bud can blossom. In the same way, only a healthy being can succeed. So what’s being healthy? If you are feeling rough inside, then you are not healthy; if the mind is stiff and not calm, you are not mentally healthy. When the emotions are rough, you are emotionally not healthy. To attain a perfect state of health, one has to be mentally calm, steady, and emotionally strong.

The state of healthiness has to flow from the innermost of your being to the outermost, and vice versa. That state is called Swasthya in Sanskrit. Swasthya means health. It also means being in one’s Self. Swasthya or health is not just confined to the body and the mind; it has come to you as a gift from the cosmic mind or the ‘Indra’.

Have you noticed this? When you enter a place where a very disturbed and stressed person has spent some time, you start feeling disturbed for no reason even if the stressed person is not around any longer. The same feelings, same thoughts, same emotions come to you.

 Similarly, when there is a harmonious vibration like at a place where a Satsang is happening, you feel good. You don’t know why. So feelings are not isolated in one’s body, they are all around. So is the breath. Ditto for the mind, it is in the whole environment because the mind is subtler than the five elements — the earth, water, fire, air and ether. Like if there is a fire somewhere the heat is not just in the fire, it is also radiating throughout the place. Subtler than that is air, which is all over.

 So if you are unhappy or depressed, you are not the only one who is feeling it; you are spreading it to the whole environment. A time may come in the future when people will be fined for being depressed because they are creating emotional pollution!

 But how can we control this? That is the key question and the answer lies in meditation. The main purpose of meditation, Pranayam and related practices, is that they increase prana or the subtle life energy. Prana is subtler than emotions. When you attend to the subtlest, the gross becomes all right. You handle the breath and the body gains good health. In the ancient days, the prayer has been that let this collective consciousness, the Indra, always bring health and put me back to my Self. Let it always keep me centred, joyful and happy. Let everyone whom I meet bring me back to the Self. This is important because the words that you hear from people around you affect your state of mind. They either give you peace and joy or create a disturbance.

Usually what happens is that, when people say something that creates jealousy, anger, frustration or sadness in us, we think they are responsible. No, we are responsible because we are contributing to the process. We are affected because the mind is not its Self; it is not centred. How can we gain that peace which is unshakeable? Being individually happy is not enough. Our wish should be that whomever we meet be happy and radiate happiness. A frustrated man will create frustration; a jealous person will create jealousy and so on.

You can turn every situation to your advantage. Have you ever thought of this? There are stories in the Puranas of how a saint turned an arrow that was going to hurt someone, into a garland. If somebody is shooting an arrow at you, insulting you, realise that they are doing it because they are miserable. Once you are blossomed from within, you can take any insult and turn it to your advantage.

Realise that they are simply pouring out their stress, tension and anxiety. When people shout or burst out at you, you can only feel good that all that was building up inside them is coming out. I am not saying that we should encourage this tendency or justify it. But when it happens, do not regret it. What do we normally do? We go on regretting and with regret, we commit the same mistake again.

Even when someone commits a mistake, he or she is not the culprit; the stress inside is causing him or her to make that mistake. Once we get rid of the stress inside us, there is no culprit; no one to be forgiven. Then we begin to realise that the whole thing is just a game in which there is no winners or losers. It’s just a play and fun.

The objective is to have that fun in life and make sure that the knowledge that we gain in life permeates inside us. With this, Upanishad happens and the learning process begins. As we learn more about life, the mystery of the whole creation unfolds. Then the question in the mind is, what is the meaning of life and what is its purpose. What is this world, what is love, what is knowledge and so on?

Once these questions arise in you, know that you are very fortunate. These questions need to be understood; you cannot find the answers in books. You have to live through them and witness the transformation. That is perfect health; you are transformed from within. And the bud becomes a totally blossomed flower.

 Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher and an ambassador of peace.

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Spiritually Speaking

YOU ARE NOT YOUR MATHEMATICAL COMPREHENSION

Arun Malhotra

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The human mind wreaks time. We think in terms of time. We think that time is not passing or time is passing fast. The sense of time that is ahead of us and the sense of time that we passed lend us an artificial cognition and we perceive this artificiality as the truth of life. Therefore we say that time is all-powerful and time is the truth. 

Krishna in Gita has said that I am the time to denote that the time which is human comprehension which has penetrated deep into our cognition is within Him. That which is time exists in the mind. In existence, that which is time exists like existence. Things are changing around you. Seasons birth new seasons. Seeds birth trees and trees birth flowers and seeds. Everything is changing around you. Water is gushing down fast in rivers to birth into the sea. Water is gushing fast because it wants to birth into a vapour that will birth icebergs. The human body is changing every moment. Old cells birth new cells in the colony of 90 trillion cells. Days birth nights and nights birth days. Everything is changing around you. 

The predicament of mankind is that man wants to know ‘how much’ time-change. This sense of measuring ‘how much’ time is practically useful to be more organised so you make good use of it. But it is not necessary for your existence. You simply exist and the sense of measurement of time is not necessary for living your life. You exist in existence because existence exists in you. Existence is the truth in which you exist. Measurement of time that how much do we exist has gripped us. 

We think about how much life we have. How much life is left? All this is interpretation in terms of time. This type of interpretation breeds death in us. Our mind is nothing but an interpretation of time. This body anyway is going to birth a new body. Like one lived 70 years that is only a measurement of time by human comprehension.

In fact, we live in infinity and eternity. Our sense of measurement of time lends us an understanding of ‘that much’ time we lived. We ruin our eternal life. We ruin our life that exists like existence and that is in our hands to live right now. Instead of living an eternal life that is in our hands right now we constantly live in the darkness of time. This mathematics of time is simply a mathematical artificiality. We comprehended time we invented time and we have mired ourselves in manipulability of time. Time is a piece of information. Life is not a piece of information. Life is being here and now in the being-ness of your being. Life is not a scale of time. 

The scale of time has lent humans the dimension of science and mathematics has lent us comprehend the world better. We cognise the world in a certain way. Animals don’t cognise the world in that way. The ones who evolved a better sense of listening cognise it differently whereas those who evolved a better sense of seeing cognise the world differently. When our eyes see an object, say a rectangular object, our ability to cognise that object as rectangular depends on the light thrown on that object. When we see that object, that rectangular object projects an elliptical shape on the retina in the egg-shaped eyes. How does an elliptical shape project on the retina make us assume or decipher that the object is rectangular? 

Science thinks in terms of time. Science cannot explain how does vision that according to science leads us to an assumption of the object, our mind assumes it to be rectangular. Science cannot explain how does vision that is a projection of an image on the retina leads to instant understanding. This is the biggest riddle that AI scientists face. But when one sees an object say a flower one instantly becomes one with the flower. He can dive into that flower-ness of being. No time is needed. Time is needed to calculate. 

We live timelessly and we are timeless. Our minds caused time. Mind is time. Time is mind. Mind is confronted with psychological a disease that is time. The common problem of time is anxiety. Anomalous perception of time that has deep entered into our mind has lent us the situation of neurosis. 

When you are alone, you feel more anxious. You need somebody immediately. A sense of time is necessary to organise things and activities around you. That daily you work out for an hour or you picked up a particular work for four hours. So to organise that won’t keep doing it for more, time may be utilised. 

In reality, that sense of time that is utilitarian is biologically present in your mind already. When you ask yourself that you have to do particular work for an hour, the biological clock in your pineal gland makes you stop exactly after an hour. We have invented chronological time for our utility. We have made Sundays, that is holiday and Saturdays weekend when youngsters party. We have made a day at the end of the year to say goodbye to the year and to welcome the New Year. 

In fact that we call the moment that is where the illusion begins. We generally say, ‘live in the moment’. We live in the moment. Then we say we live next moment also. That fabricates chronological time. But that we call ‘now’ is the now-ness. We live in now-ness. In Hindi the word ‘Now’ is a boat and in English ‘Now’ is also a boat that takes us beyond. We have to live in now. And keep living in now. In that now nothing comes next. Anything that comes next is psychological and the mind.

You may keep sitting for hours, days turn nights. You may keep on sitting. But we have organised our bodies as such that it sleeps in the night. It is spontaneous. The next day we wake up and go to the office. It keeps happening. This continuity has an infinite continuum. The world is ephemeral but that which is infinitely eternal is what we are. 

Time is nothing but a sense of time that is bred in us as the mind. Time is psychological. It is not anything that happens in eternity. You happen in eternity and unhappen in eternity. You are eternal and you exist in eternity. And you keep existing in eternity. And you keep living in that eternity. Your life is eternal. All else is mathematics. You are not your mathematical comprehension. You don’t exist because of your comprehension. You comprehend mathematically because of that being that infinite eternal and timeless. Time is not the truth but that which is the truth is timeless. Nanak has said Satnam — thy name is the truth that is Akal which means timeless.

The author is a spiritual teacher. He can be contacted at arunavlokitta@gmail.com

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Spiritually Speaking

ATTAINING PEACE THROUGH FORGIVENESS

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In these troubled times, humanity is witnessing a growing hunger for peace and human unity. We are realising that our survival depends upon us recognising that we are all one family. So how can we attain peace in the world?

FORGIVE AND FORGET

The first step toward peace is forgiveness. If we are to realise peace in our world, we must learn to forget the past and forgive those who have wronged us. We must replace revenge with forgiveness and compassion. We must cleanse ourselves of anger and hatred and replace them with love and forgiveness. 

How can we achieve this? I offer you a solution that has worked through the ages. Compassion, forgiveness and peace can be ours through spirituality.

SPIRITUALITY IS THE WAY

What is spirituality? Spirituality is the recognition that our true self is our soul. It is recognising that our soul is one with God. It is realising that we are not merely our body and mind, but a soul that inhabits the body.

We may think of ourselves as being a body bearing a name or that we are a citizen of a certain country. But spirituality is recognising that behind these outer names and outer labels we are all souls, a part of the one Creator.

As such, we are all members of one family. When we develop this angle of vision, we start breaking down the barriers that separate one human being from another. We start feeling like we are all connected at the level of the soul. When we experience our unity and connectedness, we start caring about each other. We want to help and serve each other. The hungry cries of our neighbour’s children will cause us as much pain as the cries of our own children. We will see the homeless man on the street as our own homeless grandfather, and we will be moved to help him. Our vision will be broadened and we will have compassion for the suffering of all human beings and will want to help them.

AWAKEN TO YOUR TRUE NATURE

How can we develop this noble vision? We can do so by awakening spiritually. We awaken to our spiritual nature through the simple technique of meditation on the inner Light and Sound of God. This process of inversion helps us wash away hatred and replace it with love and peace.

By sitting in silence and directing our attention within, we connect with our soul and are able to tap into the love, peace and bliss that is within us. As we do so, we become loving, kind, peaceful and giving human beings.

Through daily meditation, we come in contact with God and are bathed in divine love and bliss, which cleanses us of the years of habits that caused us to have hatred and anger. In its place, we are imbued with the qualities of love, forgiveness and compassion. In this state of peace and love, we are then able to develop the qualities of forgiveness and compassion for those who have hurt us.

As we become more peaceful ourselves, we begin to radiate peace to all those with whom we come in contact. Peace begins with us.

It all begins with the first step and that is forgiveness. Forgiveness will lead to inner peace, and this inner peace will blossom into outer peace in the world, enriching every heart.

The author is the head of the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission.

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SEEKING THE INNER SILENCE

Anthony Strano

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Most of us feel some emptiness within, or a neediness or discontent, and yet we do not realise that what we are hungering for is the experience of inner silence. This inner silence is able to fill and satisfy us, giving us the inner strength and ability to heal ourselves by putting us in touch with the real meaning of life.

Deep within, we all remember the meaning of life. We could think of these sketchy memories as the few remaining strands of a thread of life. Sometimes, little everyday situations – such as an unexpected moment of silence during a busy day – jerk this strand, stirring up an innate feeling that reminds us, “I am something more. I can be something else.”

This tug of the thread kindles a desire to search, to find out what that “something more…something else” is. Perhaps that is why you are reading this page. A hope stirs deep within – the thought that we are not bound by anyone or any situation. It reminds us of what we are at the core – not what we are as a parent, spouse or child or because of a job or special talent, but what we are because each of us is a self that lies beyond the social, physical and emotional realms. We might think of it as a point of eternity – a point of unique spirit within the universe, which is eternally me.

So, the inexplicable pull of that thread is accompanied by the feeling that “there is something I must reach, something I must know and (even more important) something I must be.”

Now, we ask, how can I catch hold of this thread that will guide me and enable me to clearly see the difference between the dead end of the noisy world and the open door of real life? “Simple”, a little voice whispers. “It seems difficult and laborious, but it is not; it is as easy as stopping for a moment and becoming silent.”

A PEACEFUL THOUGHT

It is not so difficult. All I have to do is to give myself permission to stop – to stop for a moment in this hectic spinning called life.

Take a moment, or two or three, and be still and silent. Sense the quietness of the moment – and slip into a place of no thinking, become completely still. In the stillness become aware of the real, true you. Let this awareness appear quietly, but brilliantly. After a few moments, as you return to your daily activities, try to retain this consciousness, this original state of being, which is serene and complete, the real you.

The late Anthony Strano was an author and Rajyoga teacher with the Brahma Kumaris.

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Spiritually Speaking

GOD UNDERSTANDS YOU VERY WELL

Dadi Janki

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Never have the thought that you do not want a part in the drama of life. That is not possible. It is good to understand these things in detail. Understanding allows you to remove the sorrow. It makes you a self-sovereign and makes others this, too.

What is needed is to prepare the self internally for whatever scenes may come. Attention to the self like this removes all worry and concern. Then, even extreme situations appear as side scenes – they will come, and they will go. Your mind will stay free, happy and powerful and this is what you will share with others.

The only thing we need to do is remember “I am a soul and around me is the game of life playing itself out.” Then, whatever role comes up for me to play I will play it very well, no longer confusing the actor with the act.

The one who remembers this is, in God’s eyes, a hero. God says, ‘Understand the part I have given you to play.’ But though I do not see myself as God sees me, I should never say ‘How?’. God is the Director and He understands me very well. Realise this clearly: God understands you very, very well.

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Spiritually Speaking

What does it really mean to be a Rajyogi?

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Rajyoga is not just practice of meditation for half an hour or an hour. To be a Rajyogi means bringing all the understanding and attainments into a complete way of life. Just as a ‘raja’, a king, behaves as a king throughout the day – in thoughts, words, actions and relationships — even when he is not sitting on his throne, so too a Rajyogi keeps a check on his or her behaviour, words, tone. A simple life and royal manners are the credo of a Rajyogi.

Yoga means connection, relationship. A Rajyogi has four principal relationships or connections. Relationship with the self, with God, with people, and with nature.

The key words for the relationship with the self are attention and awareness. Having a harmonious relationship with the self means to be constantly aware that I am an eternal being, a being of divine light, a soul. My original nature is peace, purity, love, happiness and truth. I use the body while remaining aware of my true nature.

The key words for a relationship with God are faith and love. God is love. I remember God with love and put the wisdom of God into my life for the benefit of the self and others. This makes me worthy of receiving love and respect from all.

When it comes to relationships with all others, then the key words are mutual respect and healthy communication. It is so much easier not to create any conflict with anyone, than to try to mend the damage that conflict can cause. Share only good news. Bad news and gossip spoil the atmosphere and draw others into negative, heavy energy. Be light, make big things small, be honest and transparent, and in this way we gain the trust of all.

Finally, in our relationships with nature the key word is learning. Despite all that we have done to our natural world, nature just keeps on bestowing. We need to learn from nature how to keep on bestowing with love for all and cooperate in bringing peace and benevolence into the world.

All the elements have a lesson for us:

a) Water: It has flexibility, the ability to flow around obstacles and adjust to situations. Water has coolness.

b) Earth: The earth is tolerant of all that we do, just like a mother. We need to learn to tolerate the behaviour of others, to be patient and make sure to cause no pain.

c) Air – It teaches us to be light. We must make sure to maintain the right attitude and not make the atmosphere around us heavy with negative feelings and conversations. We need to learn to uplift others by lightening the burden they are carrying in their hearts.

d) Fire: It brings warmth. Intense fire transforms. Intense fire removes the alloy from gold. We must transmit warmth with a big heart and compassion.

e) Ether – It is unlimited, vast. Let us have unlimited hearts that can accept everyone, with no exceptions. We must not limit our love and kindness to just one or two, but hold everyone as worthy of our regard and good wishes.

Rajyoga is a way of life — a life of understanding, compassion, attention and benevolence.

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