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YOGALife - Spring 1996
Table of Contents Om
 ·  Memories of Swami Vishnu-devananda:
- A Different Kind of Swami
- The Spirit of Renunciation
- Cherished Memories
 ·  The Yogi: Portraits of Swami Vishnu-devananda
 ·  Swami Vishnu-devananda speaks: Questions and Answers
 ·  Ekadashi
 ·  How to Get Vairagya
 ·  Brahmacharya
 ·  Sex is not compulsory
The Yogi, Portraits of Swami Vishnu-devananda

Swami Vishnu-devananda "The Yogi, Portraits of Swami Vishnu-devananda" was written by Gopala Krishna, a long time student of Swami Vishnu-devananda and director of the Sivananda Yoga Center in Ottawa, Canada. The book is available at any Sivananda Yoga Centre. The book is published by Yes International Publishers, 1317 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105-2602, USA

The following is an excerpt from the recently released book "The Yogi, Portraits of Swami Vishnu-devananda." It comes from the chapter entitled:

Mantra Initiation

Swami Vishnu-devananda's philosophy of life was evident in everything he did. He believed, lived, and taught that one person could make a huge difference in the lives of others. Because he was a link in the ancient lineage chain of Yoga, he also passed on the great owers of Yoga initiation. Swamiji spoke on this subject often:

Initiation literally means "ignition". When you start a fire, how do you start it? You start with small little twigs and papers; you ignite the twigs and then slowly add larger wood and soon you have a huge fire! But how much fire did you use to start it? One small match stick, is it not? A small match stick is able to ignite that hidden energy in the firewood. Fire comes from that, We are all nothing but dormant energy. Like firewood, fire is still there, but in a dormant state. The wood which has gone into the fire becomes part of the fire and increases the energy. That's the whole secret of the initiation. Initiation means suing the Mantra as a way to enlighten your heart, or to lighten your heart.
Even before the earth was born, Mantra energy was in a certain state. Newton did not create gravity. He discovered the existence of an energy called gravity. It was not new when Newton discovered it. Nor did Edison create electricity. Electricity was there. Edison discovered the existence of a certain energy called electricity. In the same way, this Mantric energy existed, even before creation.
Everything is in a state of vibration; everything is energy waves. Your body also vibrates at a specifiic wavelength. You learn to tune to specific wavelengths to get a specific energy or strength or power. Mantra is a particular wavelength of a spiritual mystical symbol. Eventually, your mind will be tuned to it. At this time you have cosmic consciousness or meditation. That's the secret formula.
Each individual must have a Mantra to suit his particular mind. But we can't have four billion Mantras. For four billion people we don't cook four billion types of food.
What type of food do you have? One type of food you like much better than another, is it not? What did they serve for breakfast? Granola, fruit, bread, bread and butter, and yoghurt, Some of you took more granola; some took more butter and more bread; some took more yoghurt, is it not? Though we have been given the same food, one food you like much better than another. But the purpose is what? To nourish your body, you take granola, more and more. It is the same with Mantras. There is no such thing as a superior Mantra or inferior Mantra. All Mantras are alike, are equal and have equal efficiency. Jus like fire; all fire burns. Of course, some wood can burn more, if it's not wet. But even wet wood will burn.

"Mantra is a particular wavelength of a spiritual mystical symbol. Eventually your mind will be tuned to it. At this time you will have cosmic consciousness or meditation.

In India we know which Mantra is suitable to a particular mind, because we know the deities. Every name has got a form; every for has got a name. We cannot use any word as a Mantra; the form of the word you use will be reflected in your mental state. According the Yoga psychology, your mind assumes the form of the objects you think of or meditate on. If you are thinking of an orange your mind takes the shape of the orange in order to have the perception of the orange. This is the law; this you must remember very clearly. So if I'm thinking orange, orange, orange, the mind takes the shape of the orange. Then only is visibility and perception possible. If there is no form of the orange, even if you're repeating "orange, orange, orange, orange," if there's no form, it has no impact on the mind. The mind does'nt know what it is; it's just a word.
In the same way, form alone is not sufficient. If you just visualize the form without the orange name then the form has no effect on the mind. You need name and form. If you want to see the fire, but there is no form of fire in the mind, you can repeat "file, fire". Still you cannot think of the fire. Name and form go together.
If this were not so, you could use any word for meditation. You can use "flowerr, flower, flower, flowerr, flower, flower," but your body and mind cannot be lifted by a flower, the energy coming from the flower, the radiation from the flower. The wavelength of the flower and the object flower have no permanent impact on your mind. Only spiritual words can lift you up. These words are called spiritual Mantras. The Supreme Being is one and is called OM. The highest Mantra is OM:
A - U - M. All other Mantras emanate from the OM: A - U - M. Every Mantras that we can speak of, and every language in fact, is hidden in this one cosmic syllable OM. The meaning of that OM syllable is very difficult for the ordinary mind to grasp. For this reason we very seldom initiate anyone into OM, though it is the highest Mantra. Because people don't have the highest subtle intellect to meditate on an abstract form like OM, but still you can meditate on OM if you want. There's no harm, because it is abstract. All other Mantras are concrete, they have a specific name or form.
Are you a Krishna type, a Rama type, a Siva type or a Devi type? These are the basic personality types
Are you a family person, a householder, interested in wife or husband, children, a nice steady healthy family, family unity? You want peace in the family and a real relation to your husband or wife, a spiritual relation. You think that children should respect their parents. If that's the type of life you are more engrossed by, then you have the Rama type personality. Rama is the husband, ideal child, ideal god and ideal destroyer of demons and establiisher of law and order. He is an ideal in everything, perfect. He has only one wife for his whole life. In all his life he never even looked at another woman. He has only one wife and that's all, that's his whole attitude. So this attracts real family responsibilities. If you have a character like that, then you meditate on Rama. You should be initiated into a Rama Mantra.
Others are withdrawn types. They will go to Mount Kailas, like Lord Siva, perpetually in the snow-capped mountains, away from the hustle and bustle. In the snowy peaks Lord Siva lives and meditates. Any devotee interested wll come to him; he is not interested in running towards th devotee. He's another withdrawn. If you have that type of attitude, even if you are a family member, or a householder, or a business person, if your temperament is more removed and it doesn't make any sense to you to get too much into the active social life and running toward the social things; you want to be quiet and relaxed in attitude and withdrawn, then you should be initiated into a Siva Mantra.
The greatest majority fo the people are Krishna types. Krishna has all characteristics fo every human being from childhood onwards to a very advanced age. In one life, he played every part we can think of. He was a statesman, teacher, king and player. Anything you can think of, he had the ability to show it in himself, in one life. So the vast majority of people like that particular temperament because of the various characters Krishna played. We give the Krishna Mantra if you have a temperament like that. Others are more interested in the Mother. They have more affinity to the divine creative power and energy. They've got more love and compassion, like a universal mother and they are more close to the Mother's heart. God also manifests as mother, not only as father. He has all the aspects, the feminin too. Then we can meditate on this aspect by getting a Mantra on Durga or Devi.

Initiation ceremony

Once you have chosen a deity and a Mantra and a Guru, don't change this all your life. You don't change your teacher; you don't change your deity. This if for your whole life. If you are going to get initiation, do not try to change or get another Mantra. It's not good for you. If you don't have belief in your teacher, then don't take Mantra from that teacher. Try to find a teacher in whom you have belief and faith. You have to have certain feelings for the teacher to get the benefit of the initiation. Then only can the teacher ignite you.
It's not a commercial Mantra we are giving. We are not interested to take any money or anything from you. It is the custom from ancient days that students can give any dakshina or offering to the teacher. It's an old custom, and still the custom because teachers don't have any specific money or income. What the disciples give from their hearts, the teachers use for their own help, or for helping humanity. Students can offer anything; fruits, flowers, money; garland, anything. Whatever they have. They always give whatever they can to contribute to the welfare of the teacher and his organisation and so on.
That is allowed.
But you cannot sell Mantra on demand, "I want such and such things for my Mantra." This demand cannot be made by the teacher. It is against all spiritual growth. No Mantra can be sold, nor can a Mantra be concocted, nor are there any new Mantras. There are specific Mantras that exist and there are no new Mantras. We cannot create nor can we give a different Mantra to every individual. It is not possible; no one can do it and call themselves spiritual Gurus.
It is often asked, "Must we keep our Mantras secret?" You must keep it secret, but that means just not exposing it to everybody. If I am going to tell everybody, "I'm going to repeat!" If someone wants to know, and there's a purpose behind curiosity, you can tell; there's no harm, you see. That's the only secret.
So what do you do after Mantra initiation?
Initiation alone is not sufficient. Initiation is just like igniting the fire. We are only using one small match stick to light up the fire, is it not? Well, suppose you ignite a fire with a small match stick, but you don't have kindling wood and papers, what will happen? It will go out. The match stick, the ignition, has no value then. Immediately after lighting the fire, you have to add more fire, to make it bigger and bigger and bigger. You make the fire huge, Then it will give enough strength and energy; it won't go out easily.

"You and Siva, or you and Krishna, become one and the same. There is no difference in that last state; the meditator and the meditated are one and the same.

The more times you repeat the more the fire grows, bigger and bigger. Then there will come a level, a very high level, you are almost meditating on the transcendantal level. At that level your mind automatically enters meditation. The moment you start Om Namah Sivaya, your mind goes directly and you are meditating on the higher level. There's no sound in any form, not vocal form or telepathic form. Only in the transcendantal, the sound vibrates. The vibration on Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namah Sivaya goes on intensely. The power of that energy in now vibrating at a very high level; that's called meditation.
You start as beginners, Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namah Sivaya. You start verbally, then you go to mental repetition. Mental is more powerful than verbal. Eventually you stop even mental repetition and you enter the telepathic level where the sound and the name merge in a telepathic state. Then you transcend that and come to the invisible energy state where you become one with the form you are meditating on. You and Siva, or you and Krishna, become one and the same. There's no difference in that last state; the meditator and the meditated are one and the same. You become the object of the meditation just like your mind takes the shape of an orange to see the orange, so you become Krishna to see Krishna, or become Siva. Bur they are not different deities; Siva is not different from Krishna; nor is Krishna different from Rama nor is Rama different from Devi or the Goddess. They are all one and the same. According to your relationship or temperament, one is more easy to approach and to meditate on.
Repeat the Mantra after getting the initiatiion. Don't just drop in. You must meditate regularly. You got it everybody?

Swamiji gave Mantra initiation to anyone who asked for it. There is no records of how many people he personally initiated, but it must be in the thousands. He believed that Mantra initiation was the necessary first step along the road to God Realization, and was always willing to help anyone who wanted to take that first step.
In conjunction with Mantra initiation he would also give you a spiritual name if you wanted one. This name was the name of a Hindu deity, an aspect of God usually related to your Mantra. It was something to live up to. If your name was a name for God, you came closer to becoming God. Every time you adressed another person in the organization, you spoke to God. In this way Swamiji encouraged us to see God in ourselves and in everyone else. Mantra initiation had a profound effect on many people. It was a symbolic transition from one life to another, from a worldly life to another, from a worldly life to a life of spirit.

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Swami Vishnu-devananda

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Last updated: June 17, '99.


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