"Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitute wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there." Meister Eckhart (12th Century mystic)
Greetings from India! Here, at the ashram on the banks of the holy Cauvery river, we’ve been training in mantras, tapping sincerely into the spirit of the Upanishads. However, it is not just the mantras in themselves that are feeding our souls, but everything else we are doing, particularly our visits to the temples.
In the Mastery of Mantra, I am sharing updates on the Taitirreya Upanishad broken up into parts featuring learning the speech word-by-word, the chanting (also broken down), then put together in easy-to-chant phrases, and finally, the translation for each piece. This text is often used in the traditional Veda Patashalas to teach cadence.
The first section is Shiksha Valli, literally “the teaching of pronunciation.” I am training our pilgrims in the various parts of this section here in India through a live process that is in keeping with tradition thousands of years old. Our method is that of the Krishna Yajur Veda’s Taitirreya Shaka, which is...
Each time we circumambulate around the central shrine of a Shiva temple, we encounter a row of 63 mysterious stone statues clothed and venerated with sacred markings. As Nada Yogis, practitioners of sacred sound, these esteemed spiritual personages are of profound significance to us. And here's why:
Between the 6th and 8th centuries, a wave of devotion across India developed into the Bhakti movement of the middle ages. Interestingly, the movement's origins coincided with the Muslim invasions, whose strong beliefs about graven images destroyed many Hindu temples and statues. This detail is relevant solely to the context of the extraordinary calling of these hounds of Shiva, who helped inspire devotion under extenuating circumstances.
These musician saints and poets of the Bhakti period inspired a wave of devotion in India's early medieval period while helping to preserve the stories and the philosophies of Hinduism. Furthermore, they ingeniously expressed in the vernacular (local...
While we learn about trust, faith, and surrender in everyday life, they are the hallmarks of the pilgrim's progress. On pilgrimage, we learn about these processes in extraordinary ways that differ from when we understand these processes amid the vicissities of everyday life. Here is an account of what has transpired recently and powerful lessons from life's teaching over the past three years.
When we returned from India in 2020, we had completed 22 consecutive years of pilgrimage to India, taking a group of our students to visit temples and holy spots while living at Bede Griffith's idyllic ashram on the banks of the sacred Cauvery river in Tamilnadu. Then, in early March of that year, covid began. It was terrifying: no vaccine to protect immunity, an enormous daily death toll, and no drugs to combat the illness.
Three years passed with a deep longing for the spiritual energy that feeds our souls in India. While we experience the power of India's significance in the west through our...
I'm sure there is much about Shiva that you know. However, here are three things about "Shiva" that, even if you did know, are expanded upon with new information, or at the very least, some new associations.
Each year, we make a pilgrimage to India, where we visit many Shiva temples. We are there now with our students exploring our spiritual practice together in community. The mystery of Shiva is also one of the essential tracks in our Yogic Mystery School called "Sacred Masculine."
Shiva, the God, is part of a vast pantheon of Gods and Goddesses within the Hindu spiritual framework. But there's also a very different sense of Shiva's deictic nature. Shiva, within Shaivism, one of Hinduism's principal traditions, is also the absolute supreme being, which means Shiva is more than a God: He is the creator of this universe, a bit like the Biblical Yahweh.
And it is not just the power of creation that he wields, but that of...
The cusp between year-end and year-beginning is a time for reflection and resolution. Often, world events do not necessarily influence our formulations of what shapes our decisions for self-improvement in the coming year.
Here are three examples:
1) Acknowledging and engaging conflict within ourselves
2) Working for the upliftment of the feminine in all areas
3) Being responsible for emotional climatic conditions
WISHING YOU A BLESSED AND PURPOSEFUL 2023!
Asha & Russill
It is Diwali, among the most auspicious times for Hindus, a festival that celebrates the triumph of spiritual light over the darkness. So it is time for festivities and fireworks, a joyous occasion. We hope you can feel the blessing of this moment when the stars and deities configure to grant us prosperity and well-being.
Without throwing a dampener on this blessed time of the year, new developments in the world reminiscent of two world wars cast a shadow that is impossible to ignore, especially as civilians and utilities come under direct fire. So pray for the resolution of conflict in Ukraine, peace in our world, and prosperity and well-being for all.
Here is an appropriate mantra to chant:
oṁ sarveṣāṁ svastir-bhavatu
sarveṣāṁ pūrnaṁ bhavatu
sarveṣāṁ maṇgalaṁ bhavatu
oṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
May all be blessed with well-being.
May peace prevail in our world.
May all beings be deeply fulfilled.
May prosperity be bestowed on all.
Om Peace Peace Peace
ॐ सरवेषां सवस...
We need meaningful spiritual practice in uncertain times. One of those practices is called Likhita Japa.
You can write mantras in any language. Sanskrit, however, is particularly well suited for this purpose. The script is called Devanagiri from the root "deva" for divine beings and "nagara," meaning a place or city. Each letter, therefore, is a dwelling place for divinity.
As you write the mantra, relax your mind and bring your heart into the process. Find a way to connect to something deeper and more than yourself. In other words, find a way, your way, to connect meaningfully to the divine.
You can learn to write the mantra Om Namah Shivaya in this example. At first, look at the shape of the letters and copy them. Later, once you get used to their forms, you can recall them from memory.
You can also say the words aloud as you write them to feel the vibrations as you create them on paper. "Shiva" means blessing, so remember that as you write the word. You may write other...
Prayer is about building muscle, a form of spiritual fitness. This blog teaches how to develop spiritual fitness through prayer when you feel disempowered.
Hurricane Ian has left devastating damage in its wake in so many areas, while the situation in Ukraine is in danger of serious escalation. And these are only two of so many circumstances in our world worthy of our prayers. And we can go further than the prayers in our minds and hearts.
Some of us might have other matters, much closer to home or right in our backyards, that preoccupy us much more than what is happening in our world. Nevertheless, figuring out meaningful spiritual practice in uncertain times is a great need of our times. Moreover, it is essential to develop long-term spiritual fitness built upon prevailing spiritual wellness.
No matter what moves you the most―major world calamities, conditions of friends or loved ones, or your problems—here are three ways to engage: through your love, prayers, and support.
We can use any mantra for healing. However, understanding a mantra and, more importantly, cultivating a relationship with the power or intelligence behind the mantra can further the healing process.
Where does one begin with mantras and healing?
One way is to invoke the God of Healing: Dhanvantari.
Here are two variations:
om namo dhanvantaraye
om dhanvantaraye namaha
Learn more about sacred sound
In the video below, I share the pronunciation for this mantra for healing along with some chanting and other information.
Below the video, you will find reflections to help deepen your mantra practice around healing along with some questions for journaling.
Click the play button on the video below:
Questions for journaling and reflection:
When we need healing, we follow directions. What's the mantra for healing, we ask. Someone gives us a mantra, and we say it with faith.
What is it then that heals us: our faith or the mantra? Is the mantra a vehicle for our faith? Or is our faith...
What is oneness, and why do we desire it so much?
I believe oneness is our blueprint for spiritual homeostasis, a natural return to balance, harmony, and unity. However, the tendency to move out of this original state is part of our naturalness, as well. That's the oneness paradox we must learn to manage with skill.
In other words, losing the oneness experience is part of regaining it. When we grasp this paradox, we start to appreciate oneness as a unity that embraces diversity and differentiation. Oneness does not need to be a homogenous mushy soup of unity.
The key is awareness of oneness lost as it is lost. If the desire to restore oneness begins when we lose it, a different process ensues in contrast to recovering or restoring oneness after the fact. We learn that there is no need to lament this loss but be present in the unfolding process and be willing to guide its return back to spiritual homeostasis.
The loss of oneness is the explication,...