“What is AHYMSIN” by Swami Ritavan Bharati and Shi Hong
What is AHYMSIN
by Swami Ritavan Bharati and Shi Hong
(This is a transcript of the opening talk on February 25, 2019 at the 2019 Sangha Gathering at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh, India.)
Recording started with Guru Prayer and Peace Prayer.
Swami Ritavan Bharati:
On behalf of our sannyasins, our residents, our sadhakas, of Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, the home of the sadhakas, and on behalf of Shi Hong, Senior Vice President of AHYMSIN, we welcome you. Each and every one, we sincerely open our hearts by way of inviting you back home. Back home, to a homeland of our lineage.
We have just conducted the ritual, a sacrament, a reminder of a relationship where that presence of the very life force, that light, that love, is an embodied, is a blessed one. And in that way, it is a connection to Mother Divine, in all her beauty and benevolence. And so, from that relationship, a living relationship, alive with beauty and wonder, that womb by which the perennial wisdom flows. By way of in that life force, a transmission, through śeṣaḥ, as identified by Patañjali, Vyasa and all the Masters, Saints and Sages that have been imbued with this transmission of light, of love. And into each and every one of your minds and hearts that transmission of mantra, a living seed by which a relationship is recognized, is supported, and matures in your daily meditation. So we began our homage to the lineage over these next eight days, over these nearly 200 hours, over these nearly and more than 200,000 breaths. Enjoy that connection. And this will prepare the next ritual, the next sacrament for tomorrow when we invite the rest of the divine forces that will be with us over the week. Again, not merely in simple form, not merely by name, but by a presence, a divine presence. Now what is the symbol of that, what is the proof of that, by way of our own Master. Swami Rama has said, my love is the revelation that the divine is within me. Simply that. My love is the revelation that the divine is within me. That enlightened, that embodied and enlivened spirit is our connection and is our lineage. So once again, the purpose for your visit is to reconnect, re-examine, examine in the sense of your daily reflections of your life, of your relationships, of your spiritual journey, and your meditation having let go of all the samskaras, the remembrances, the hopes as well as the fears and worries, and simply in that space of emptiness, that place of the connection with divine will, for you find that satiety, you experience that santosha, perfect contentment, and in that way love flows. You realise that the divine is within; you connect with the lineage that is alive and traces its aliveness back to the golden womb, the perennial wisdom.
Along the way we will have many opportunities for reconnecting our social bond, our relationship of knowing where we have come from, what work we are doing, what challenges in life we are having, to share. To share intimately as kalyana mitras, noble friends in kindness and compassion, and so keep that in your heart, that maitri, that karuna. There is a sense in being in a family that is supportive and is encouraging you to continue on the spiritual path no matter what difficulties you experience, hardships that were endured, losses that bring sorrow. Let us empathize. Let us open our hearts to compassion, yet know in the deepest of the deepest, your purpose of life is moksha.
To untie these knots of the bondage, where samskaras have created those habit patterns by which our personalities are so attuned that change is very difficult, that the emotion seems to just be there and we have no control. Recognizing a relationship by which the tools of yoga, the sentiments of your sadhana will make changes in your life, revelations and transformation in your personality, and thereby a connection with others that will be kind and compassionate. So resolve to begin here.
This is your both home where you can be free, [and] it is your testing ground so that you can learn, try out, and in that way leave with the abundance of tools for your spiritual journey. Not only do we have amongst ourselves, as you look around you see many familiar faces, our family is vast, entire globe all the continents, I heard we set up another centre in Antarctica recently. So your family is one that encompasses the globe; in fact even in coming here, you have come from all parts of the globe. And so in that way, we honour both the vastness of this relationship and the power that it carries in the very need of humanity in this day and age.
And that is why we have given a proclamation or declaration of our sangha to be the sentiments of Swami Veda has revealed in The Perennial in the Millennium. Already this is two decades old, but has it been understood and has it been practiced and has it been growing as the sentiment of each and every one of us that becomes a relationship with others and thus that mind field continues to be the support that this collective mind field truly needs at this time and in the future? I would invite you to take a number of the paragraphs in The Perennial in the Millennium to contemplate. You will have time during your visit, make time before you sleep, make time, to contemplate, what is truthful and helpful for humanity, by way of your own spiritual practices.
An example, occupations which we both treasure and abhor. “Occupations and the economies will be pursuits to add to the earth’s green mantle, to help all to savor the opportunities for beauteous creativity devoted to granting comfort to the relatively deprived. Nor shall any fetus suffer from the absence of micro-nutrition, nor shall a single seasoned aged elder curl up to sleep hungry, alone, and uncared-for. There will be no wasting of the surplus and thereby no dearth of the essential” for each and every one.
It is so valuable because it is the measure of humanity in the Satya Yuga. You all know as a Kali Yuga, this happens, that happens, and everyone says it’s the yuga, the Kali Yuga, and they blame it. This is the way humanity is. But Swami Veda again and again said we are in the best of times, if you make your mind pure and your heart free to accept truth and to slowly make the changes in your own habit patterns that will then begin to affect slowly the entire humanity, and thus we can live in the Satya Yuga now if we so choose. In supporting that the little booklet, you will receive: Peace, Poverty and Planet: One Aspect, One Face. Please do reflect, contemplate. And during some of these sessions together, there will be opportunities to share those contemplations.
A third little booklet you will have in your welcome packet is Smriti Yoga. Smriti simply means remember. And it is part of our theme of Love, Serve, Remember, that we have as the dictum of Swami Rama. In that remembrance, Swami Veda has written numerous ways it can be understood. The smriti of spiritual practices, which as you know include japa, especially of specialty mantras, Gayatri and, of course, the Saumya mantra that we will introduce for sangha time and for the next three years as an observation and practice of the special mantras.
There will be many other opportunities to understand the scope of our tradition that provides for the spiritual practices. For the essence of your sadhana so you can apply and understand the progress that you have made and will make. Now, to the theme of our community as it is described the Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies, that Himalayan is the name of the lineage, the name of the tradition, the name of the perennial way in which knowledge and wisdom flows through transmission. The yoga is the practice, the application of that wisdom knowledge, and in that way meditation is essential.
Meditation as dhyana was actually the first name given to a community in the US by Swami Rama. When he had come to the US, a Master looks for disciples. Disciples are looking for a Master. Somehow a match occurred. Even with a disciple having many doubts, Swami Veda met his Master. Yes, it was a couple decades after that he was looking for a Master, but his Guru said, ‘You must fulfill your own karma’. I have come when I am supposed to. Now our relationship will mature. So from that stage from that place, there is a way be which the dhyana, the meditation, took hold. First a little centre in Minneapolis where Swami Rama also was visiting, living at times. Then he said to Usharbudh Arya, our Swami Veda: You, I have given you this seed that is planted, you take and mature your centre here, I am moving on, like a swami should do.
Onward he moved to Chicago and onto Honesdale. Yet even in Chicago the first centre there was Dhyana Mandiram, which then became the next series of associations, the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy, yet dhyana, the meditation is central, is essential, and in that way is the act by which transmission continues.
And you hold that as your resolve, each day that reconnection through meditation. That nurturing through meditation. That meditation at many times is simply complaining or fantasizing, yet it is your meditation for that day. And in the end, you say Svaahaa, so be it. You say Namah, I offer this meditation to you Gurudev, the light of love. And in that way you have let go. And in that way you have progressed, and in that way you have devoted your lives to live life with a purpose, so that at your last breath, your mind will smile. And that mind will take the seed of that smile, that mantra with it as it makes its transition and departs the body. So you are on your spiritual journey for a purpose, honour that purpose.
And in that way the Association of the Himalayan Yoga Societies as a meditative way will help you and that will encourage your students as you also proceed in your teachings and nurturing of others and preparing them for initiation.
In addition to this short introduction, I would like to ask Swami Prayag Giri if she has some words of introduction and welcome for you?
Swami Prayag Giri: It is wonderful to be with you all, old devotees I have been seeing since years coming here, devotees of Swami Rama as well as Swami Veda. And I am sure you will have a wonderful time this one week. To attune more and more with God and Gurudeva and I wish you all the best.
Swami Radha Bharati: Welcome home to this garden in every sense of the word, the garden that we enjoy here and the energy that we share with all the flowers and beauty that surrounds us here. The more important the spiritual energy that fills the grounds, and I see in your faces that you imbibe in the spiritual energy that is here, and we have this week to share that and deepen that together. Welcome.
Swami Tattvananda Bharati: Hari Om. Two types progress, one outside progress, other inside progress. This place for inside progress. How we do inside progress? First, do study. Then understand the difference between good and bad. Leave bad, follow good. Later do meditation, control desire, and do japa. When you progress, it means there is standard, later 12th standard, then degree, then Master Degree, then PhD. Same, step by step you will do progress inside. Outside progress, temporary happiness, and inside progress, long time happiness and good last time and good next journey. Hari Om.
Swami Ritavan: Now I would like to ask Shi Hong to address and welcome you all.
Dear Swamiji. Good morning fellow seekers, friends, welcome to the Sangha Gathering of 2019. I was given the task of saying something about what is AHYMSIN. But I found there is very little left to say after Swamiji’s wonderful explanation of the tradition. What is AHYMSIN? To a lot of people it is a rather obscure name, and in fact even within our family sometimes we also will question “What is AHYMSIN?” because when we go outside we put up the board that says “AHYMSIN” and people come up and say: “Oh, what is this? Can you explain to us?” So we went through some soul searching. Should we have a secondary title next to AHYMSIN explaining who we are, what we are, and what is it stands for? We had some sessions discussing this. In the end, we decided that nothing can be added.
This name was given by Swami Veda, and he intentionally incorporated this entity, registered in India as a society, to organize the disciples, fellow sadhakas, globally. So he gave this name AHYMSIN. What is in the name? A name is the same object that it refers to, especially for someone like Swami Veda. He who is a rishi. A rishi does not give a name randomly. A rishi gives a name that has meaning in it. So AHYMSIN, as Swami Ritavan ji just explained, his plan for us, stands for Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International. That is a long name. Whenever I translate that into Chinese language, it is almost impossible to translate it succinctly. You have to say a very long line and then still leave AHYMSIN untranslatable. So we always go through this process of explaining to people what it means. But, in a way it helps because it is a way for us to introduce ourselves to complete strangers. People come in and we start with AHYMSIN.
Swamiji [Swami Ritavan] had told us it’s the global body of Swami Veda. He created this. AHYMSIN has seven letters and stuck in the middle is the “M”. M is not just a mantra word, it stands for meditation. And that is the first and foremost means of practice in this tradition. And so Swami Veda deliberately put the “M” in the name. Otherwise he could have called it the Himalayan Yoga Tradition as it has been referred to for many decades before he created AHYMSIN; so the meditation is the main focus of this lineage.
Last December I was in Beijing having a sharing session with a group of people who are pretty much new to our tradition. Before we started the session, the night before, we had like a session open to the public. So anybody who is interested can just walk in. So I was there doing the usual thing about the Himalayan Yoga and why we were there and what we were about to share during the next two days. At the end of the session, there was a lady in the audience, apparently very well informed exposed to yoga, and a very good speaker in the English language. She turned out, as I was informed subsequently, to be a professional translator for the yoga industry in China. There are so many foreign teachers. Yoga teachers go into China, but there is language problem. You cannot just pull somebody or an English major student come out and translate yoga. This lady made a name somehow for herself as a professional translator of the yoga science. So she had translated for many, many different yoga traditions for many, many different yoga teachers. At the end of this public session, she put her hands ups and asked: “There are so many yogas. This yoga that yoga. What makes you so different?” I was taken aback. What makes us so different from all these other traditions?
I paused a little. So I stood back and then a thought came to my mind. I said I cannot really say how we are different, but may I put in a way that I say why we are the same? We are not different. If in your yoga tradition the primary means of practice is meditation, and all these asanas, pranayamas, study of the texts are ways to facilitate a better meditation, then we are not different. We are the same. If your yoga tradition has as a mission, to set out to relieve the pains and sufferings in the world and bring people to recognize the divinity within, then we are the same. If your yoga tradition comes from a long long long tradition handed down by guru to disciple, guru to disciple for thousands of years nonstop, and is not a recent invention by a suddenly enlightened being, then we are the same. If in your yoga tradition there are classes to be taught and each of those classes is an inspiration, some kind of an initiation, and it is not just a transmission of techniques, it is not just a transmission of intellectual knowledge, then we are the same. So I told her in conclusion, I could go on for quite a few more “similarities” but I think that is probably enough to tell how we are not that different from the other yogas, provided that the things I have just expressed are also what you believe in. If so, then we are the same. We are not that different.
So that is in a way, to summarize my personal take of the tradition that is long established, following flowing down all the way from the Hiranyagarbha to Patañjali, to Vyasa to Swami Rama. And then to Swami Veda who founded AHYMSIN in 2007 and had it registered in India. He served as the first Spiritual Guide. And in 2015 when Swami Veda left his body, he left instruction very clearly that Swami Ritavan is his successor of AHYMSIN, as the Spiritual Guide. So this is the lineage, this is the tradition that we follow and please do not deviate from that. Let’s keep it, this purity. Let’s not digress into something very fancy but not true to our lineage or not true to the pure yoga tradition. For instance, one of the things Swami Veda has left as a standing instruction to all of us is he said: ‘When I am not in the body, please do not make the ashram into a therapeutic or ayurvedic centre. Do not make this ashram into a stress management or sleep enhancement kind of institute. No. Keep it pure.’ Hopefully, during the time we are all here, we can sense that purity of this lineage, of this tradition. And hopefully when we go back we bring it back with us and we spread it around with our friends, with our family, with fellow seekers.
Having said that, I remember it was in 2010 when I was asked to join an AHYMSIN meeting in Malaysia, and at that meeting Swami Veda said: ‘What makes us different?’If you want to say, you can say three things.
One is three-minute meditation. Do not underestimate the power, the effectiveness of a three-minute meditation. This is what we emphasize a lot.
Another unique feature of our lineage according to Swami Veda is the full moon meditation. Please keep it as much as you can and encourage your friends to join because that is the opportunity where all sit together at the same time. We may be physically apart, but we all sit together at the same time. Previously it was Swami Veda who would always sit with us, and now it is Swami Ritavan who will sit with us at each and every session globally.
And the third thing Swami Veda said makes us different is silence. He is a master of silence. If you look through his lectures, there are so many materials, so many sessions, so many teachings he gave about silence. Now that is an irony. He spoke so much about silence, and we already come out with one book, very lengthy book which it takes a lot of many hours to read. That book called Silence. And a next book on silence, Silence II, is on its way. So, it is a way for Swami Veda [to] say, keep it with us, make sure that we do understand and do appreciate silence as a practice. So do set the time regularly during the year, during the month, even during the week and make that a silence moment. That is the moment that truly belongs to each one of us, to yourself, to myself.
So finally, I would just like to share is that we are all here for one purpose and one purpose alone, that is our own spiritual progress. And hopefully we can all reach the destination of moksha. It is all about each and every one of us. Swami Veda again and again said ‘Your personal progress is of the utmost importance. But, you will progress more if you will help others progress. You will progress more, and that is how we achieve progress, and that is the teaching Swami Veda has given to us specially in that little orange book called Sadhana in Applied Spirituality. The real sadhana, he taught us, is in everyday life, and it is not just sitting for fifteen, thirty minutes, one hour, two hours a day with eyes closed. We have to bring apply the teachings and apply those into our daily lives. He said, ‘That is the real sadhana.’ and I would very much encourage if you do not yet have a copy of that book, please do get a copy of that book. I have many friends, many friends, who had told me personally, they said sometimes they went through a problem, an issue, they did not know what to do, and so they went to that book to turn the pages and unexpectedly the answer was right there. Very pertinent to the situation the person was in at that moment. Previously they glanced through ‘ya, ya, ya right, that is nice.’ But at that very instance, they turned a page and said, ‘Ah’. And that is his / their ah-ha moment, and that is the blessing Swami Veda always gives us. He said ‘May your problems not be answered. May your questions not be answered. May they be resolved.’ And I struggled very hard when I translate that line into Chinese for my friends. He did not use the word ‘dissolved’; he said ‘resolved’. So how we resolve the question? It is the grace that he has given to us, the blessing that he has given to us.
And with that, I conclude my short address. Thank you all for coming and hope you will enjoy your stay here and I would like to particularly thank the people who have been working so hard in preparing this unique event. It is quite a task for those people to put this so nicely.
[Missing the beginning parts of Swamiji’s closing.]
So practice both. And those 200,000 breaths, a few mantras there. Yet where is that doorway to infinity. It is in between the two breaths. Ah, ha, you have a half million opportunities to merge infinity. So enjoy.
Also, in preparation for Silence Day on Thursday, it is the routine of our ashram to have Thursday, Guru’s Day for silence; again, for the sangha we have identified Thursday for the day of silence, and you will have more information on the observations as well as the Akhanda Japa that we will have for that day.
In the meantime, today, Tuesday, Wednesday, meditative voice. Some of you were here when Swamiji had given those classes and seminars. So what is the meditative voice? The voice that is pleasant. The voice that is sincere, truthful. The voice that uses a measure of appropriate words: not less, not more.
So again, practice your silence with meditative voice. A voice that comes from a joyful heart. A voice that has a rhyme and a rhythm that flows with the breath. That integrates the prana body so as to not bring excitation of the nervous system and thus bring forward the problems of the mind. So let it be pleasant.