“Deepening your Sadhana and Keeping Inspired” by Pandit Hari Shankar Dabral on January 25, 2018 with Audio
“Deepening your Sadhana and Keeping Inspired” by Pandit Hari Shankar Dabral
The Meditation Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota – USA
January 25, 2018
Let’s pay homage to the Guru Lineage. Let’s connect with their minds. Take the awareness through the presence of the Guru by the Guru Mantra, your personal mantra, your personal mantra reciting in your mind for a moment. Then join me for Guru Shanti and then we’ll begin:
gurur brahmā gurur viṣhṇur gurur devo maheśhvaraḥ
guruḥ sākṣhāt param brahmā tasmai śhrī-gurave namaḥ
Om! Śhāntiḥ! Śhāntiḥ! Śhāntiḥ!
Thank you! Namaste!
First of all I would like to thank Rajnikant who initiated this thought that I should do a Skype session. At the beginning I resisted it. Somehow I said “no” in my mind, but to him I always say “yes,” and I like this idea. It’s a great way to connect, and I would be happy to do more and more satsang this way – whatever you guys need. Whenever there is a need for me to speak, please me know. And I am so grateful and thankful to Rajnikant, and so “Thank you, Rajnikant!”
It’s always good to be with the Center and with all those who are here. This evening what I would like to share with you is what I was told when I asked a certain question to Swami Veda and also Swami Rama of the Himalayas. The question was: “How can we deepen our own practice, which is known as sadhana?”
I was told that no matter how many books I read, or how much I know, or how beautifully I can interpret the scriptures – any of the yoga-sutras, for example – these things would not take me to the final realization; they would not lead me there unless I put them into practice. So we must practice what we know. Swamiji said that we do not need to know all, but you need to practice what you know
So, sadhana is the most important aspect of what we know. And the Yoga-sutras say that sadhana needs regularity. If we are not regular, we will not move further. This morning I was teaching a class, and I told the students that regular practice is needed. It’s mandatory. It’s a must. It does not have to be for too long. You don’t have to devote many hours to it, or even one hour. But regularity is required, even if you spend only five or ten minutes. Five or ten minutes will not make a huge difference in your daily schedule, but make sure that you are regular. Swami Veda repeatedly used to tell me, “It’s your appointment with the lineage. It’s your appointment with the Guru.”
The tools, the means, and the ways that we need in order to deepen our own practice are very simple: All it needs is remembrance. And the very first remembrance for me – the tool that I put into my practice – is that I am initiated into the Himalayan Tradition. This thought alone with inspire you every day to sit for your meditation, because when we sit, we communicate with the Guru. And there are not many people who have a Guru in their lives.
We are so fortunate, we are so lucky that we have a Guru in the form of a mantra that has been given to us. There are times when situations are such that we feel that our meditation practice is not helping us, or we feel that we don’t have time to do it. We may feel that we are disturbed and that we are not “there.” Somehow or another we feel that we are not getting the chance, or we are not inspired to sit, or to continue sitting, or to put enough effort into our practice. Everybody goes through that, as well as having relationships that demand attention – whether it is family or whether it is work or our health – anything. Even though there are all these things, just remember that you have a mantra. Think: “How many people have a mantra?” When I think that – “I have a mantra! – then I feel very bad for people that do not have a mantra. I have no idea how they deal with their minds when they are in a crisis, when they have problems, when they have issues in their lives. No matter how much turmoil comes into your life, if you simply remember that you have a tool that can dispel the darkness of every issue, every problem, and you use it, then you, my friends, are deepening your own sadhana.
Your sadhana is not only sitting in the morning and the evening and holding your mala beads and doing japa. Your own sadhana is there all day long. You are aware of this factor: that you are a mantra. You have had many sessions from the Shiva Sutras. If you remember the first sutra in the second chapter of the Shiva Sutras, all your sorrows will go away. Do you know what that that first sutra is? “Chittam mantraḥ,” which means that the totality of your mind is mantra – nothing else. Because mana, which is chitta, has the same root as mantra.
So, we have that tool all day long, even though we have issues, even though we’re not doing well, even though there are problems – and Swamiji used to say, “As long as we are in the body, we will always encounter problems.” I was doing a satsang on Tuesday, and it just came out of my mouth, and I said: “We all have problems, and as long as life exists, we will always have problems and struggles. But we can change the perception, and instead of calling them ‘problems,’ we can call them ‘challenges.’” Challenges are very important in life. They shape us. They help purify us. They make us shine. Even in daily life I see on social media that people have all sorts of challenges: food challenges, home challenges, job challenges, health challenges. Why can’t we see all those daily things around us as challenges.
Swami Rama used to watch his students at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale and see how they were encountering every challenge in their lives. What is your perception and your attitude, and what is the way in which you encounter and approach problems? Swami Veda would do the same thing. He used to ask us to write to him or type an Email. He told me in Calgary that it was not because he needed people’s help, but he was checking on them and seeing how refined they were with their communication.
Has the practice, has the sadhana that we have been doing made us somewhat better, sharper, purer? And he told me one day, “If you are ‘hitting’ the computer keyboard when you type, it means that you are not doing any sadhana.” So, my friends, sadhana means remembrance every single minute, every single hour, that you have the mantra and that you can remain connected with the lineage. That is the first tool to deepen your practice.
A practice that is very valuable is to make your meditation a priority. Nothing comes higher than our yoga practice. Everything else comes afterwards. Even if you have to ignore something, absolutely ignore it. Swami Veda used to tell me that if you were serious about your practice and were ignoring something else, it was not being selfish. He said, “Be selfish when it comes to doing your practice.” Of course you do things for others and make yourself available, but when it comes to your practice, it’s your practice, and no one else is allowed. Close the door. Ignore what’s going on outside. Absolutely ignore it. That’s the second tool. Make your practice a priority. Then, no matter what happens, these ten minutes are yours. Even if your house falls down or the world falls apart, “I will not care.” I saw that in Swami Veda. Swami Veda used to do that. He said, “Even if the sky is falling, I don’t care. It’s time for my practice.” And from Swami Rama, from his own mouth I heard him say. He used to call me ‘Sonny.’ “Sonny,” he said, “if you are sitting in meditation and the world falls apart, you will be safe because your meditation will protect you.” So these are the thoughts that we need to keep alive.
Let’s say that you are not “with yourself” these days and there are problems and issues you have to deal with, or you are so busy, or you are out of work, or the economy is bad and there is job loss and all that. What do you do at that very time? Do you know what I would do? I would call my close friend who is also initiated in the Himalayan Tradition and just talk and share your thoughts. That’s why there is a sangha. The sangha has a great value in a sadhaka’s life. And that’s why it is advised and encouraged that we have to do satsang. Call a friend and talk to her/him over tea. Or invite him/her to your home, or have lunch. Share your thoughts. You will see some light.
Or have some books in a side table, some inspirational books, like Living with the Himalayan Masters. Keep those kinds of books near you, and every now and then flip to a page. Read just half a page before going to bed. There are many, many, many tools that we can use to uplift our morale and keep our morale higher.
Come to The Meditation Center and just sit down. There is something that you will feel just by being in that presence. Sit in front of the altar. Pandit Rajmani used to tell his son: “Go and sit in the puja room. Just sit. Do nothing.” Swami Veda also used to say, “Just by sitting on your meditation seat, something happens.” His favorite words: “Something happens.” We used that word “something,” because we don’t quite understand how it happens; but “something” happens. And that “something” we need, especially when we are down.
When I do not feel the inclination to do my practice – sometimes I don’t feel any inclination – but I was told, “Do not put yourself down and feel guilty.” But, at the same time, I would call a friend. I will call a friend like Rajnikant, and I will just start talking with him – and we do get inspired by each other’s talk, believe me or not. Any close friend, anybody you know who also practices. Open any inspiring book and start reading. Don’t ask, “Will this help me or not?” Not that attitude. Just simply do it, and you will begin to see that something unfolds in you. And you will open that door which temporarily got closed because some worldly curtains came and you could not see the sunlight showing you the room where you always used to sit to meditate.
Whether you think your mantra is helping you or not helping you, just keep repeating it. I said to Swamiji, “I don’t see that anything is changing.” He said, “Don’t worry about whether things change or do not change; just keep doing it.” He said, “Your job is to do your mantra. Your job is not to find out what it is doing.” And many of you have heard Swami Rama lecturing, and repeatedly he used to say, “You do your chore. You do your part, and let me do my part. So, if I’m not there yet, simply keep doing your meditation.” Don’t do any analysis about “Am I making progress?”
Somebody sent me an Email asking, “Panditji, do you think I’m making progress? I’ve been meditating for the last seven years.” If I were to ask that question to Swamiji, he would say, “Just stop.” Actually, this makes me laugh. We were in Taiwan, and I was sitting with Swami Veda. He used to ask me to make chai. I was his chai person. We were both having chai at night, and I was reading an Email from his computer where a person wrote: “I am so happy because my kundalini is rising, and I’m seeing beautiful colored lights.” So I said to him, “Swamiji, I have been meditating for many years, and I have not seen anything. When I close my eyes, all I see is darkness” – because when I close my eyes, there’s nothing else. Do you know what his answer was – a very classic answer? He said, “Hari Shankar, I have not seen anything either.” So, that very simple answer has many, many, many wordings. Swamiji said later the next day, “Our path is a nirguna path. We are not to seek any phenomena or any lights, or heat in the spine, or movement in our body. That is not the Himalayan Tradition. The Himalayan Tradition is a tradition of stillness, stability – which is shown in our daily performance of actions. And that is the teaching of the Himalayan Masters. They see how politely, how kindly, how thoughtfully we are talking to or relating to others in the world. “How stable am I when I sit? How still am I?” These are observations you can write down over time in your meditation journal: “I used to be able to only sit still for ten minutes, and now I can sit still for twenty minutes, and I am so much happier. I have a sense of joy when I sit.” So reflect on yourself.
Swami Veda used to tell me, “You do not need anyone, because you have YOU.” Why do you need anybody? Just go to yourself. How do I go to myself? I close my eyes and start reciting my mantra – absolutely simple. Just as long as you don’t think of anything. Don’t think, “Is my mantra doing anything?” Don’t think, “Am I doing it right?” – all kinds of questions that we have in our minds. Have no questions.
Do you know Swami Veda’s book called Blessings? Out of all the hundreds of blessings, one blessing is my favorite, and also his favorite. And do you know what that blessing is? He used to give that blessing to many people, and especially those who were close to him. And the blessing is: “May you never find answers to your questions.” People get mad: “What do you mean by that? I am here to find answers.” We’re always trying to find answers. But, you know, the more we think we have answers and understand, the less we understand. We are not here to understand. We are here to experience. Understanding, my friend, is for the intellectual mind. Sadhana is not part of intellectual mind.
Sadhana is when you get connected with heart. Put your heart there. Swami Veda’s words are: “Fall in love with your practice. Get closer.” There are no rules. There is no manual in the world about how to fall in love. The easiest way to fall in love is to get connected. See your mantra every day. Go and see – like going to see your loved one. If you say, “Oh, I’m in love,” then you are always thinking about or, writing things to your loved one, or about being in love. You fall in love with your mantra. Whenever you have a chance, do your mantra.
We are to experience – because our understanding will change every single day. And it should change, and that’s fine. There is nothing wrong with that. But the actual under-standing, that which would move us further into realization, is practice – falling in love with your practice.
There was a woman in Honesdale who asked Pandit Rajmani to prescribe a special practice for her. So he said, “Lie down.” And Pandit Rajmani gave her a particular mantra and explained the rules and regulations related to it. And at the end, she asked, “How long do I do this practice?” And he said, “As long as you enjoy it.” She was so shocked, and her eyes got wide open. And she said, “Do you mean that I need to enjoy?” And that is what most of us miss. We think that a practice is a practice, and you are to do your practice. We do not see that enjoyment is a part of the practice. And we repeatedly read in Yoga-sutras I.14:
Sa tu dirgha-kāla-nairantarya-satkārāsevito dṛḍha-bhūmih.
Satkāra is to enjoy doing your practice. If you read Swami Veda’s booklet titled “The Daily Schedule of a Sadhaka,” he says that one of the signs which indicates that a sadhaka is improving and making progress is that s/he looks forward to sitting and doing the mantra: “Oh! When can I do my mantra?” Even if there are only two minutes available, you just start doing your mantra. That is what falling in love means. That is what enjoyment means: “Oh! I enjoy sitting!”
And, you know, we want to do more and more of what we enjoy! Everybody has their hobbies. “I really enjoy my hobby.” People say that. And we do enjoy all these other activities. But we never say, “I enjoy sitting every morning!” We say, “Oh, and then I have get up go to work, and I try to sit, but sometime I don’t get time.” Or people say, “Well, sometimes on weekends I have time, but I want to sleep in.” People never say, “I enjoy sitting and doing my practice!” People say, “I enjoy shopping for clothes.” “I enjoy this restaurant.” “I enjoy playing basketball.” “I enjoy long drives in the country.” But seldom do we hear: “I enjoy my practice.” If the day comes when you can begin to actually do that, and can say that, then you know you are progressing and deepening your practice. “Deepening your practice” means that you are more and more aware of your practice. Even though you are not sitting, you may be out driving, but you are aware of your mantra; you are aware of the practice.
Swami Veda and Swami Rama of the Himalayas used to say, “Thinking about your meditation is far better than actually sitting for meditation.” Do you know why? Because when we sit for meditation, the chances are that your mind is wandering. But when you think about your meditation, the chances are that you mind is one-pointed in that thinking of your meditation. Recall the sitting that you did this morning. Recall the practice that you did last night. Just think about it: When you are driving, when you are sitting alone.
There are times when we have a hard time falling asleep, and then we start wondering, “Why? What’s wrong with me?” Useless! And then you start reading a magazine: Useless! The easiest way is to start doing your mantra! You may never find the answer to why you are not falling asleep. But, relax, do the relaxation, do the mantra. There are many, many, many, many tools we have been given. We are so fortunate. Maybe just do the 31-point Relaxation. “Oh! I did the 31-points, but it did not help.” Well, do it again. Do it again. Do it three times, Do it four times. Keep doing it until you fall asleep.
Don’t give up. One time, two times, three times. Maybe do the 61-point Relaxation.
I personally do mantra. Swami Veda also used to do mantra.
One time Swami Veda told me. He said, “You know, people say, ‘I can’t sleep because I’m so stressed out.’ So I purposely tried to create stressful thoughts for myself to see if it would keep me from falling asleep.” And he said that he failed. He said that when he lies down within five minutes, he’s gone into deep sleep. Because his mind has no wrinkles like our minds have. And the wrinkles are all kinds of worries and all kinds of stresses. But mantra will certainly relax it. Mantra will certainly iron out and smooth out all the wrinkles the more and more you do.
Think how fortunate you are to be initiated and that we have a mantra. That was Number One. Number Two is that we know something about yoga. We know how to meditate. We may not be able yet to experience the highest, we may not be there as yet, but it’s okay. We know something about it, so use the tool.
Inspire yourself. Inspire yourself every day. Inspiration is needed. Without inspiration, nothing happens – especially when you are down. Especially when things are not going well in your life; that is the actual time when you need inspiration. Swami Veda used to say that inspiration is like a candle flame which lights inside your heart center. And then you really need to protect that light from worldly winds and blizzards. Don’t let that candle flame be blown out. Don’t let that light be extinguished. And that light is the light of inspiration.
And to me, personally, I enjoy and I feel so proud that “I have my mantra!” What else do I need. Anything and everything can be achieved just be approaching and getting closer to my mantra. Manana triyate iti mantra. All of you know this. If we know this manana triyate iti mantra, we know that “mantra liberates the mind.” So if your mind needs liberation from whatever it is: mantra!
Time liberates also. It is important. Drop by drop by drop, you collect. And then one day you see that your pail is now full. Don’t think that your pail is going to be filled in one day or one week; that never happens. For that you probably have to do a hundred hours of meditation, which is not possible or practical at all. What IS possible, and what IS practical is one tiny drop you put in your pail – and within a short time you will begin to see that your pail is filling up. And you didn’t even realize it; you didn’t even feel that you actually made a huge effort.
A huge effort is not necessary at all, my friends. This is the beauty of the Himalayan Lineage. They don’t tell us that you have to make a huge effort. You only have to make a tiny effort – but that tiny effort you do is with a full heart – that you are so in love with this mantra, that you are so in love with this sitting for meditation. You just sit for two minutes and you are there. “There” means that when you come out, you are so joyful, you are so relaxed, and you are so calm.
If that begins to happen, that means you are deepening your practice. It means that if during of the day your mind is thinking about doing your practice, it means that you are deepening your practice. But, at the same time as we were taught, we have read that, if you, for some reason, get disconnected, if for some reason you are not there, or not feeling the inclination, never condemn yourself; never put yourself down.
I always tell people, and it has become a motto in my life: “I am an important being.” I just read a quote from Swami Rama. He said, “The Lord of Life is within you.” So that means that you are an important being. When you get up every morning, say to yourself that you are not just anybody, but that you are an important being. Why are we important beings? Because we have the Divine within us. We have heard that we are divine beings. We have read that we are divine beings. We have not experienced that yet, but we are on the path of experience. And we should never feel that we are a “nobody.” We are important beings. We have the divine within us. Swamiji Veda used to say that slowly, though we might not experience it yet, tomorrow – if not tomorrow, the day after tomorrow – may you reach there.
So, rather than pondering on this – “How come I am not reaching there? How come I am not there?” – just simply take inspiration every day that you are an important being and how fortunate it is that you have been initiated and have a mantra. It is very simple. If we think like that, we can remain inspired. We get bogged down in complications which we think is the actual life, but in Swami Rama’s books and his lectures, his advice is that simplicity is needed. So in your practice, keep things as simple as possible.
Sit for meditation every day and let go of thoughts. Whatever happened yesterday, it’s in the past. Take your inspiration for today. And your inspiration is: “I am important because I have a mantra. And because I have a mantra, I have a communication line through which I connect with my Guru at any time that I need to.” How many people have this communication line?
Mantra and Guru are one and the same. By remembering your mantra, you are remembering you Guru. Thinking of your mantra, you are thinking of your Guru. Actually in the Bhagavad Gita or some scripture – and even Swamiji had told me – “If we think of the Guru, the Guru will think of us.” It’s vise-versa – both. It is not a communication like we normally think of; it is a sacred communication. There are no words. The communication is the recitation of one’s own mantra. Keep repeating again and again and again. And the more you repeat, the deeper you will go. And the deeper you go, the more solid and strong your communication will be with the Guru. With the recitation of the mantra and remembrance of the mantra, you open the channel for the Guru’s grace.
If you put in place the things we talked about tonight, you will be inspired, and that is all we need, my friend. Deepening your sadhana is not a very hard thing to do. Compared to the hard things we do in our lives and in home, it is very simple.
So, keep yourself inspired. Keep close to your friends on the path and come to The Meditation Center together frequently. You have a wonderful means with The Meditation Center. Come on Thursday evenings. Take advantage of this sacred site, to recharge and receive inspiration. You don’t have to do anything special when you are here. Just being around like-minded friends will inspire you. You have friends who are you kalyana-mitras, your “spiritual benign friends,” as Swami Veda calls them. Be around them; connect with them often. Just come and sit. And if for some reason you are away from the Center, call a friend and talk with her/him. And keep in your bedroom some inspirational books. Read at least a page or two every day. Or maybe make a resolution to read at least a page of some inspirational writing every day so that your inspiration remains high – high inspiration, high morale. So the inspiration and the tools are there. And the highest tool is your mantra. Okay?
I thank you. I wish everyone well and all the inspiration from the Guru Lineage. May the Guru guide us. And if we do our mantra, Guru will guide. I always tell people. You know Vimala. Once Vimala asked Swamiji Rama: “Swamiji, will you help me?” “Yes,” he said, “I will help you, as long as you meditate.” So that simply means that Swamiji is there and always ready to help if meditate. He is there to communicate if we do our part. I wish you well. Go home. Sleep with your mantra. Wake with your mantra. Go to work with your mantra. Do your mantra when and wherever you get a chance.
Namaste! Hari Om!
 Translation of yoga-sutra I.14: “That practice, however, becomes firm of ground only when pursued and maintained in assiduous and complete observance for a long time, without interruption and with a positive and devout attitude.” (See Swami Veda’s translation and commentary: Yoga-sūtras of Patañjali with the Exposition of Vyāsa, Volume I.
 Satkāra = respect, positive attitude, reverence, adoration, devotion.
 To read Swami Veda’s booklet, “The Daily Schedule of a Sadhaka,” go the Ahymsin website:
 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’?” (John 10:34-35)
Cf. Psalms 82:6: “I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”
 “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” (Meister Eckhart)
 “The further you go in these things, the more your relationship with the guru develops. Come closer. I would like to see a lot more people come closer, but I don’t always see them come closer. Your aspiration is then lifted upwards. And it is said, ‘If you walk one step towards the guru, the guru walks four steps toward you.’ But for the child to be picked up, the child has to raise his hands.”
(Swami Veda in The Guru-Disciple Relationship – 1976)