Sunday Satsang with Jim Nelson and Michael Smith – February 22, 2017

Michael wrote:



For tomorrow’s Gita Session, along with Hatha and Meditation, we will relax, release and recharge with Jim’s Shitali Karana, and then finish Chapter Three of the Bhagavad Gita.


Last week we explored one of the cornerstone teachings of the Gita – letting go of egoic notions of “doership.”  We will discuss insights gleaned during last week’s discussion groups, and any additional gems people gleaned from Chapter 3 before moving on to Chapter 4 next week.

Shraddha (“faith”) — mentioned in Verse 3.31 — “Faith is not the product of the mind, but something living that is experienced by opening the path of the heart that leads to the dawning of spiritual love and intuition. Many great sages attain a state of ecstasy by using the power of emotion, it being higher than the power of thought. If the power of emotion is directed with full heart, one is able to attain that knowledge which is never experienced by the mind. [It] opens one to another higher channel of knowledge which is called intuition. . . .  Among all the channels of knowledge, intuition is the purest of all. And for receiving that knowledge, the mind is not used. The power of emotion is evoked, and thus intuitive knowledge is received. . . . Reverence plus devotion leads to conviction. It is not a faith dependent on belief, but firm faith attained through one-pointed devotion. . . .  Those who are devoid of faith are not fit for sadhana and are therefore unable to attain Truth. Such ignorant people seek the dark side of everything and waste time in fault finding. But those who follow their path with full conviction and implicit faith finally attain the highest goal. Such faith is necessary on the path of sadhana.  Patanjali supports this idea in Yoga-sutras 1.14: He says that sadhana should be continued for a long time without any break and with full and firm faith.  Sa tu dīrgha-kāla-nairantarya-satkārāsevito rha-bhūmi — “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.” Such faith and conviction are essential; without them treading the path is impossible. Maintaining and strengthening faith is the highest state of sadhana.” (pp. 152-155)

1.  The Caste System – In some ways, people align better with the Caste System, in terms of their sva-dharma (personal purpose in life) than with the Ayurvedic doshas.  It would be interesting to compare the varnas of the Caste System with the Briggs-Meyers system.

 2.     Human Beings and Animals  – “Instinct” is another aspect of the mind which Swami Rama mentions. What is “instinct’? — Do human beings have instincts? Also what distinguishes animal intelligence from human intelligence?  Traditional spiritual systems do not agree with the Darwinian view that there is only a quantitative difference between humans and animals. The traditional viewpoint is that human beings have self-awareness, reflexive consciousness, meta-cognition — human beings have the capacity to self-observe, examine and analyze their thinking processes, and therefore alter their behavior.  As Swami Rama said, “You are the architect of your own life.”


This Sunday (November 27th) because of the Thanksgiving holiday, there will not be a Sunday Gita Session.

How does Yoga relate to Politics?

We were looking at that question for a little while in terms of the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita — but in the past two weeks, it’s become a crucial issue.

Political systems work well if the people in charge, are wise (with warm hearts and cool heads) and live in harmony with the Dharma/Tao.

In terms of a Monarchy, there are many stories of the Rex Justus (“righteous kings”), such as Good King Wencelas (907-935) who at Christmastime walked barefoot in the snow to give alms to the poor. If Christians followed the teachings of Christ, they would love all and exclude none, and today, they would probably be called Socialists. Thomas Jefferson said that Democracy would work, but only if the representatives and the citizens were well-educated and of high moral quality. When the Dalai Lama spoke at the University of Minnesota in 2001, he said that he was a Communist Buddhist.

Whatever! . . .

There are Two Positions One Can Have

1)      A Political Position — one’s preferred governmental system, and
2)      A Personal Position — one’s physical-energetic-psychological-spiritual Stance — we could say, one’s “Asana” in life!

What “Personal Positions” are there?

In Yoga there are five “Positions,” (called by Swami Veda “Stages of the Mind-field.”

After looking at the “Chart,” it’s clear that no form of government can work if the people in charge are in the Mudham Stage, . . . and very little good can happen if they are in the Kshiptam Stage. Wisdom in leadership begins with those in the Vikshiptam Stage, . . . and the ideal leaders that Plato talked about his “Cave Parable”  would have higher states of Ekagram or Niruddham.

How Does a Person in a High State of Awareness Behave?

In Chapter Two of the Bhagavad Gita, we studied Swami Veda and Gandhi’s favorite passages, which define how a person of  “stable wisdom” behaves: Chapter Two, Verses 54-72 , . . . but here is a current example:

In 1985 Ram Dass and Paul Gorman wrote the book How Can I Help? In that book is a wonderful description of skillfulness in action (yogaḥ karmasu kausalam (Bhagavad Gita, II:50) from the vantage point of someone who lives in a higher state of awareness.

Again, this Sunday, because of the Thanksgiving holiday, there will not be a Sunday Gita Session.
We wish you the most joyful and peaceful of Thanksgivings!
Jim, Veena, and Michael

On November 5, Michael wrote:
“We hope you are staying centered, “at the Hub,” during the Election-year hubbub.

The battlefield in which the Bhagavad Gita is given is called Kuru-kshetra (the “Field of Action”) or Dharma-kshetra (the “Field of Dharma”).  With the upcoming elections, we can watch how the battle is being waged externally and internally.  Once Swami Rama said to Swami Veda:

“We stand on a rock, while all about we see humanity drowning in the river of life.”

What is the “rock” that Swami Rama and Swami Veda are standing on?

In last week’s Gita session, the question was asked: “What does it mean to be ‘presidential?’”

Dan Coats (Republican Senator from Indiana) said:

“Character cannot be summoned at the moment of crisis if it has been squandered by years of compromise and rationalization. The only testing ground for the heroic is the mundane. The only preparation for that one profound decision which can change a life, or even a nation, is  those hundreds of half-conscious, self-defining, seemingly insignificant decisions made in private. Habit is the daily battleground of character.”

On page 127 of the Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita (PPBG), Swami Rama says,

“In the process of self-discovery one must uncover, examine, and gain mastery over each stratum of existence.  And, the first stratum to be faced is that of the unacceptable qualities that lie hidden behind the façade one presents to the world.  Only by fully acknowledging those qualities can one take them in hand and transform himself.”

For this week’s “discussion period,” Jim will facilitate an exercise whereby we can explore the habits of our shadow side.  Often unconscious or semi-conscious aspects of our personality drive our thoughts, behaviors and emotions in ways which are incongruent with our buddhi (our discriminative wisdom) and the Highest Good. How can we acknowledge these shadowy characteristics in a constructive way so as to avoid repressing or projecting them?  To prepare for this exercise, please review pp. 125-127 in the PPBG and read “America’s Shadow,” (Attached), an article by Deepak Chopra about “the shadow side” of the current presidential campaign.

Please also read the article by Alan Pritz, who spoke at The Meditation Center three weeks on the topic: “Applying Patanjali to Politics.”


Michael wrote…”Jim is back in town after facilitating a Silence Retreat on the West  Coast
and would like to review the “Shitali Karana” relaxation practice.

The “Subtle Breath Awareness” practice leading to Sushumna Opening
that was taught by Dr. Dale Buegel is another immensely valuable practice that
will be reviewed.

If these practices are new, please come and experience these two practicums.

Following those, we will finish  Chapter Two and the sthita-prajna verses 59-72.

Some of these verses are of paramount importance in the Himalayan Tradition:

55.       When one entirely abandons all the desires that come into the mind, O Son of Pritha, satisfied within the Self by the Self, then he is called a person of stable wisdom.

56.       One whose mind is not agitated in sorrows, who has no attraction toward pleasures, he from whom attraction, fear, and anger have disappeared, such a meditator is called a person of stable wisdom.

57.       He who has no attachment directed toward anything, or upon attaining anything good or bad, who neither greets it nor hates it, his wisdom is established.

58.       When, like a tortoise withdrawing his limbs, one withdraws each and all of the senses from their objects, his wisdom is established.

59.       When this body-bearer desists from food, the senses and their attractions turn away-all except for taste. But taste also ceases upon seeing the supreme One.

60.       Even though an intelligent man continues to endeavor, yet the turbulent senses forcibly draw his mind away.

61.       Therefore, controlling them all, joined in yoga, one should remain intent upon Me. He whose senses are under control, his wisdom is established.

62.       As a person contemplates the objects of the senses, there arises in him attachment to them; from attachment arises desire; from desire anger is produced.

63.       From anger comes delusion; from delusion, the confusion of memory and loss of mindfulness; from the disappearance of memory and mindfulness, the loss of the faculty of discrimi­nation; by loss of the faculty of discrimination, one perishes.

64.       Conducting oneself with the senses, towards the objects of the senses, however, free of attraction and aversion, and under control of the Self, one cultivating the Self attains a healthy and pleasant state of mind.

65.       Upon attaining such pleasantness of mind, there is a diminution of all sorrows. The intelligence of a person of such a pleased mind attends quickly upon him.

66.       There is no discriminating wisdom in one who is not joined in yoga, nor is there any cultivating of contemplativeness for one who is not joined in yoga. One who has not cultivated contemplation has no peace; how can there be happiness for one who is not at peace?

67.       The mind that is applied to following the wandering senses, indeed such a mind plunders his wisdom as wind blows a boat in the water.

68.       Therefore, O Mighty-armed One, he whose senses one and all are held in control and held back from their objects, his wisdom is established.

69.       That which is night to the ordinary human being is day to the wise, and that in which the ordinary human being remains awake is night to the wise one who sees.

70.       As waters enter the ocean, which is totally full yet whose basin and boundaries remain stable, he whom all the desires enter similarly attains peace, and not one who desires the desires.

71.       The person who wanders free of attachment, having abandoned all desire, devoid of ego and of the concept of `mine,’ he attains peace.

72.       This is the godly state, O Son of Pritha; attaining this, one is no longer confused. Remaining in it even at the final hour, one finds absorption into Brahman.


A week or so ago, Paul Ryan began his talk in Wisconsin by saying, “There’s an elephant on the table.” If we have time, it might be worthwhile to discuss some things in Bhagavad Gita and the Mahabharata in relationship to the November elections. What are some yoga principles we can apply to establish personal, social and planetary harmony?

Join Jim and Michael on Sunday, October 23, for further discussion of the “Bhagavad Gita.”

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Michael wrote…”The first “Bhagavad Gita” Session of the fall season took place on Sunday morning, October 2.  We shared our personal stories of the summer events, and Jim Nelson led a deep relaxation practice known as Shitali Karana.  Jim then summarized a few of the his favorite teachings from the first two chapters of the “Bhagavad Gita.”

1.      “The first step toward enlightenment is to learn to follow your conscience and not the mind.” (Swami Rama) Attachments (attraction, aversion, and expectations) are the sources of all our misery. Attachments obscure buddhi (our intuitive, discriminatory wisdom, our “better judgement”).“Abandon the idea of ‘good and bad’ and witness all the happenings in the external world with dispassion.” (Swami Rama)

2.      In your sadhana (walking on your spiritual path), surrender your ego. “Surrender the mind to God-consciousness and you will find peace.”

3.      Clear your buddhi through emotional purification – by practicing the Yamas and Niyamas, breath awareness, pranayama, and meditation. “If you practice, you will experience, and that experience will guide you.” (Swami Rama)

4.      Cultivate sattvic (pure, joyful, uplifting) choices aligned with your conscience, and then “grease your duties with love.”  “The whole essence of discipline is wrapped inside a small thing called love.” (Swami Rama)

Another highlight of the Sunday session was a “Meditation” by the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, shared by Mary Kovar.

Mary wrote…”This is taken from the pocket book, How To Love, by Thich Nhat Hanh.  I added the introductory paragraph.  After the prayer, in the book, there are a couple short paragraphs that suggest how to practice this that I didn’t add, but will if you would like.   This love meditation, called “Metta Meditation,” is adapted from the Visuddimagga (The Path of Purification) by Buddhaghosa, a fifth-century C.E. systematization of the Buddha’s teachings:


May I be peaceful, happy, and light in body
and spirit.
May I be safe and free from injury.
May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear,
and anxiety.

May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of
understanding and love.
May I be able to recognize and touch the
seeds of joy and happiness in myself.
May I learn to identify and see the sources of
anger, craving, and delusion in myself.

May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy
in myself every day.
May I be able to live fresh, solid, and free.
May I be free from attachment and aversion,
but not be indifferent.