Collective Conscionsness

Sadhana and the Power of Aum (“Om”)

Sadhana and the power of Aum "om"

In Vedic philosophy there is a concept known as sadhana.Sadhanais a Sanskrit word whose root, sadh, means “to reclaim that which is divine in us, our power to heal, serve, rejoice, and uplift the spirit.” Sadhanapractices encompass all our daily activities, from the simple to the sublime. These practices aim to help live you in harmony with the cycles of nature and to move to the rhythms of the cosmos. When you begin to do this, your mind becomes more fluid and peaceful and your health can improve. Your entire life can become easier.  

When you begin to practice yoga and Ayurveda, your first responsibility is to look beneath the various disguises  assumed over the years and see yourself as you truly are. The more you find out about yourself and your strengths and weakness, the more you will learn about your body, mind, and spirit and their innate power. You will awaken to your own self-healing abilities. In Ayurveda, there is a belief that disease happens from within, and so too must any cure. From this perspective, we can view any disturbance or illness as an opportunity to go deeper into ourselves to discover what changes we need to make in order to heal our bodies, our feelings, and our lives.

Each of us was born on this earth to fulfill a unique purpose. The Vedas call this purpose our dharmaand teach that by following the path of sadhana, we will achieve harmony with it. Harmony already exists at the core of every human life. Once we become conscious, we are able to recognize it. We become aware of the blessedness that surrounds us, the serenity in our living space after a long day’s work, the beauty of dusk glimpsed through the windows, the sweetness of sparrows’ songs, and the warmth of the colors of the autumn leaves.

When we are aware of our inner harmony, our power of intuition becomes active. We become more expressive, more fully alive, and more in tune with our bodies and all our healing energies. This intuition, together with our rational mind, will help us heal and bring all aspects of our lives into balance.

The Sanskrit word Aum(meaning “source” and transliterated as “Om”) represents pure consciousness. Through the Vedic practice of chanting mantras that begin and end with Aum, we harness the inner power of our intuition. The fact that the Biblical word amenand Koranic word aminmirror the Aumsound suggests that Aumtranscends the vocabulary of any single religion. It’s the highest vibrational sound of the universe, for the universe, and from the universe. The Vedic seers tell us that as the universe’s most sacred sound, Aumresonates within in the space of the sixth chakra, located mid-brow, between the eyes, in the area known as the “third eye.” Modern science now this defines this area as the pineal gland, which regulates reproductive hormones and helps maintain the body’s circadian rhythm.

Aumand amenshould always be spoken very reverently as though you’re touching one of the most sacred symbols of Divinity. They are not magic words nor are they curative or therapeutic words to be used in pain and suffering but, rather, they are purely Divine words to bring about attunement and oneness with God in the highest spiritual sense.

The practice of chanting Aumencourages progress toward sadhana. The purpose is well stated in the Upanishads: “What world does he who meditates on Aum until the end of his life, win by That? If he meditates on the Supreme Being with the syllable Aum, he becomes one with the Light, he is led to the world of Brahman [the Absolute Being] Who is higher than the highest life, That which is tranquil, unaging, immortal, fearless, and supreme.” – Prashna Upanishad 5:1, 5, 7

In the yoga, Aumis the holiest of holy words, the supreme mantra. Aumis also called the pranava, a Sanskrit word that means both controller of the life force (prana) and the life giver (infuser of prana). Each of us has the capacity to enter the vast universe within ourselves and become conscious of the Divine spirit that is beyond the material reality we understand through the five senses. The daily chanting of Aumdaily in during mundane routines such as cooking, cleaning, and taking a shower will help you learn to shift your perspective and enter a meditative state many times throughout your day. In this state of mind, you will come to see all obstacles and challenges in your everyday life as opportunities to learn more about yourself and your individual inner strengths. This simple practice of sadhanacan have profound impact on your inner harmony and path to health and happiness.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

Impact of Modern Culture

Impact of Mondern Culture and Ayurveda

Insert from the book Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur

In Ayurveda we cannot address the idea of living in tune with nature without also addressing the ways in which our culture creates disharmony in the first place. Today, many of us spend more time in "civilized" environments than we do out "in nature." These man-made worlds have their own energetic influence, which we cannot ignore if we want to achieve inner balance. Disconnected from the cosmic rhythms, yet not exempted from cosmic laws, modern culture (like every culture in history) has its own constitution,  its "collective consciousness" which reflects the energies and activities of the individuals and groups who compose it. Because of totality is always greater than its parts, however, the makeup of the culture also influences each member in turn. 

In Ayurvedic terms, many aspects of modern life are vatogenic in nature. Contemporary society is characterized by constant movement, speed, change, and mobility, the attributes of Vata. The age of air and space travel (vata, of course is air and space), computers, computer games, electronics, mass media, communications, and information, is a Vata age. "the acceleration of change in our time, is itself, and elemental force," Alvin Toffler wrote in Future Shock almost thirty years ago and the pace is not slowing down as we go into the next century. We produce more goods, consume more resources, create more garbage, cover more miles, meet more people, explore more places, and change jobs, homes, and partners more frequently than in any other time in history. In addition, we are exposed to ways to reproduce not only visual images, but also sounds, smells, and tastes. This tronic age, all aggravate Vata. On the other hand, we rarely make time anymore for nurturing touch, which is the sense that helps most to balance the elements of space and air. Instead, we annually consume billions of dollars worth of antidepressants, tranquilizers, and other mood-altering drugs, purchased over the counter, by prescription, or on the street, most of which are vatogenic as well. Meanwhile, the West's aggressive, competitive work ethic aggravates Pitta. Its materialism and acquisitiveness, along with its diet rich in fats, carbohydrates, and sugar, and poor in nutritive value, all aggravate Kapha, a fact that is evident in the alarming rate of obesity among Americans of all ages.

These imbalances in our collective lifestyle contribute to the high levels of stress and disease in the industrialized nations of the world. You do not have to escape to the mountains and go "off grid" in order to escape their effects, however. By following the principles of Ayurveda and using some of the stress-reduction techniques, you can enjoy all the benefits of modern life and still have a natural, balanced lifestyle no matter where you live. An Ayurvedic lifestyle does not mean renouncing material comfort, achievement, or wealth. To the contrary, it means having the clarity and energy to attain all your goals and still have the health and longevity to enjoy your success. 

Purusha

From the book Yoga and the Sacred Fire by David Frawley

One could say that the essence of our humanity is that we are ‘sentient’ beings, conscious entities possessed of feelings and capable of suffering. We cannot accept that human beings are enslaved, experimented on, used for food, killed or tortured or any other such demeaning actions that we might allow for animals. It offends our sensibilities when we see a human being treated as a mere thing or ‘object’. We respect our dignity and inviolability as a conscious ‘subject’. This is because we recognize existence of a consciousness principle in the human person. 

We see the human as an independent being, possessing free will and entitled to his or her own life and happiness. We feel that humans should be treated fairly and allowed to live as they see fit, which we refer to as ‘human rights’ in our various law codes. There is nothing inherently wrong with this line of thought except that it does not go far enough. Our mistake is thinking that such a consciousness principle and the rights that go along with it are unique to our species and do not belong to the rest of the universe.

Consciousness is not something that our species owns. It is as universal as light. Some form of consciousness or feeling exists in all beings down to the rocks. However, once we recognize the all-pervasive nature of consciousness then we must treat all creatures ‘humanely’—with a similar care and regard that we would afford a fellow human being. The same consciousness principle that makes us feel human is a universal principle that fills the world with light and allows other creatures to live and move as well. 

The universe itself is a person, though without the limitations and prejudices of our human personality. This is what the science of Yoga calls the ‘Purusha’. The Purusha, meaning a person or conscious being, is a Sanskrit term for the Cosmic Being behind the universe, the spirit within all things. The entire universe is a manifestation of the Cosmic Person. This Cosmic Person endows every creature with personhood or a sense of self, not only humans but also animals and ultimately all of nature.

The goal of classical Yoga—as defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the prime ancient textbook of Yoga—is the realization of the Purusha or cosmic being as our true Self.[i] This is a different definition than most people today consider, with the physical image of yoga that has become popular in our culture, but it is the actual foundation of the Yoga tradition. The Purusha or true Self is the ultimate goal of all Vedic practices and all Vedantic philosophy, examination and inquiry. Yoga is a path of Self-realization in the deeper sense of this Cosmic Self, not simply knowing our human self but realizing the entire universe within our own minds and hearts.[ii] Our true Self is the universal Self or Purusha that exists within all nature.[iii] The greater concern of Yoga practice is uniting our limited consciousness with the unbounded infinite awareness that is the Self of all. 

This yogic view of the Self is very different than usual views that emphasize the bodily self, the psychological self, or the religious soul as our true nature. Our ordinary view of the bodily self is of an entity that is born and dies along with the body and is as separate from the world as our flesh is from the ground. Our view of the psychological self is of an entity created by our personal history during this physical life. It has the unique characteristics of our upbringing and education along with the particular capacities that we develop through our own efforts, making us different than every other person. Our usual religious view of the soul is of an entity created by God, dependent upon the body and its resurrection, which can perhaps commune with God in some heavenly world but retains its separate identity and cannot become one with that supreme Reality.  

In the yogic view, our true individuality is an inner consciousness that unites us with all – not a physical, mental or religious entity that keeps us apart. Our self is mirrored in all the selves in the universe. If we look deeply, we can see that everything in the universe has a personality or spirit within it, whether it is the Sun, the mountains, animals or human beings. Every form in nature from the rocks to the clouds is a face of Consciousness. All faces of all creatures, we could say, are masks of God. 

This Cosmic Person exists in an embodied form as the soul within all creatures. We could say that plants and animals are evolutionary precursors of human beings or younger forms of ourselves, people in the making as it were. The Cosmic Person also exists in disembodied forms as the spirit behind the forces of nature. We could say that the Sun and Moon are cosmic, older or vaster forms of ourselves – spiritual powers and personalities. The whole universe is the cosmic human being taking many different appearances and assuming many different functions both individually and collectively as part of its manifold expression.

This view was known to the sages of the Rig Veda, in which the teaching of the Purusha first arose:
The Cosmic Person (Purusha) is all this, what has been and what will be. From his mind, the Moon was born, from his eye came the Sun. From his mouth arose the powers of fire and lightning. From the wind his breath was born. 
From his navel came the atmosphere, from his head Heaven, from his feet the Earth and from his ears, the directions of space. Thus all the worlds were formed.

The human being is a replica of the greater universe, which itself has an organic structure like the human body. We are an expression of the ‘self-conscious universe’ holding both spirit and nature within ourselves. This means that we exist in all things, not as a separate species but as part of the underlying fabric of awareness. Through the unity of consciousness, the human being is the universe and the universe is a human being.  We could say that the material universe is the body of consciousness, while consciousness is the soul of the world. 

This Cosmic Person is both man and woman, the Great God and the Great Goddess, both the cosmic masculine and cosmic feminine powers. It is not simply the essence of humanity but the prototype for plants, animals, stars and planets. The Cosmic Person is the universal form, the prime archetype behind all beings, the ‘I behind the I ‘in all creatures. 

This Purusha or consciousness principle of Yoga, however, is no mere philosophical concept, theological belief or abstract Absolute. It is the very fire within our hearts that is the light of the entire universe. The Purusha is Jyotirmaya or ‘made of light’. To truly practice Yoga we must begin with an understanding of this being of light as our goal. However, few Yoga students today are aware of the Purusha, much less its connection to fire, though that has always been the key to the inner process and higher experience of Yoga. Most meditators aim at understanding the psychological self, not realizing that our true Self is the cosmic light expressing itself in all of nature, in which our personal psychology gets consumed as an offering in but an instant.