This is one of the talks from my recent visit to the Philippines (so there are a few Filipino words and phrases in the talk).
The guided meditation audio track I used during the talk can be accessed or downloaded HERE
It is part of a guided meditation audio playlist which is available HERE
Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
So, the topic I was given, Meditation and mindfulness – building a more meaningful and happier life, from this title this word “building” means something very purposeful; just like you see here in Ortigas and other parts of Manila, all of these buildings, they don’t just happen by themself. It is a very purposeful endeavour. There’s much planning, engineering, architecture, bringing together materials and resources, human resources, and then according to a very methodical plan, laying a foundation, and then building on that foundation until the building is complete. And so we use the word, “building” a more meaningful and happier life, we mean building in the same kind of way.
You actually have more control over your life than you think. Most people kind of feel somewhat out of control of their life. There’s all kinds of things just happening to me, and it’s like I’m almost constantly reacting, and we often don’t really fully understand or appreciate that wherever we find ourself in life at any particular time, it is always the result of things that—decisions that I made and actions that I have taken.
When you consider that, then the idea that I need to be more in control of the choices that I make, really deciding what’s going to be in my best interest and very purposefully taking actions, this is required to have a life that is actually—and this is what it means to have a purposeful life, rather than the idea of just being pulled here and there, dragged along by so many things.
When we talk about being more in control of our life—You know, there’s this whole movement now, it’s part of the humanist movement; and what they talk about, “manifesting,” where you’re going to have your desires and send it out to the universe, and then you’re going to make it happen, that’s actually not true. There’s a lot of things that we can’t control. There are a lot of things that are not within our grasp or our control, and it’s important to understand what it is, that is within our control.
And so for the ancient yogis, even up to current times, the consideration of, “Really, what do I have control over?” you notice—I, in some other countries, I do programs, I run meditation and mindfulness courses inside prisons. And it’s always really interesting: you ask people, “So why are you here?” and of course, the murderer says, “Because I killed somebody,” the rapist says, “Because I rape somebody,” the thief says, “Because I stole something from someone,” etc. And my response is, “No! That’s not the reason you’re here. That was the act that came at the end of a bunch of desires and thinking.”
Even if somebody acts on the spot, out of great anger, they kill someone, it’s not like it just happens only in that little, tiny, short time. There is a whole bunch of setup for that situation. What was it that you were thinking prior to this? What is the nature of your desires? What do you think is important? Everybody has these things forefront in their mind. And it is when people become committed to goals and desires that are not good and not good for you that these kind of outcomes are produced.
One of the key reasons that people, for instance, commit criminal activity, one of the reasons that people actually do any kind of action or activity, it usually always starts in the mind. The mind is like the bedrock. This is where everything begins. And so in the yoga system there was really a big focus on learning how to control your mind; because you’ve got two choices: you can either use your mind, or your mind can use you.
Just like, for example, when you get angry, and you’re having a fight, almost anything that you say is going to cause you pain. You may be shouting at someone, and telling them all the bad things that they’ve done, and all the cruel things they’ve done to you; and the way that you’re speaking and what’s going on will never make your life better. You agree with that, or not?
When you act on the basis of intense anger, it never makes your life better. It will always somehow make your life worse, and you will end up saying and doing things that you will regret. And because you spoke and acted like that, the person (and it’s usually husbands and wives, or partners in life)—and it’s just like it’s so unproductive. Do you know anybody that solved a big problem because of anger, they use anger, and it solved a problem? But you think in your own life: anger hasn’t made my life better. It’s probably made things worse. It’s further damaged relationships. It’s hurt others. And so, it’s kind of like, well, maybe it’s not a good idea.
One of the things that really makes me laugh: you know, like husband, wife or partner, whatever, and then so many things that that person did to me, and I’ve got all this—I’m feeling so hurt, and so I have all this baggage, and I never talk about it. But as soon as I start arguing, what do I do? I start going to the baggage and bringing it up and start throwing it at them. Diba? [Isn’t that right?] Or no? You guys are different? All over the world it’s the same. All people act the same way.
And it’s like, seriously? You want to talk about something that’s troubling you, you want to talk about something that you don’t like, when you’re already arguing? How is that possibly going to produce anything good? How can you have a serious conversation and look to make life better when in the heat of the moment everybody has this mentality and consciousness.
It’s not just anger. It’s like any heightened emotional state. So my general recommendation for people in a heightened state of emotions: Don’t say anything. Don’t make a decision, and don’t take action. Go away and calm down, and when you’re no longer “sssss” [mimes upset state] like this, all out of balance because of this emotional condition, when you’ve already calmed down, then maybe a little meditation or a little deep breathing, and when you’re in a calm state, then think, “How should I address this? What’s going to produce a good outcome for me and for the other person? What’s going to make my life even a little bit better—maybe it won’t solve everything, but a little bit better? What should I do? What should I say?”
And when I’ve thought about it clearly, maybe even prayed about it, then I can go to the other person and say, “I’m sorry for getting angry,” even if you are right. Anger is not the right way to deal with something. “I’m sorry that I spoke like that. I know it’s not going to help us. It’s not going to make your life or my life better. Can we please find some time to sit down calmly and talk about things so we can find a way for our life to get a little bit better.”
We never do this—maybe a few people that have had some training, but naturally we don’t do this. We act in a very instinctive way, just driven by these emotions. The emotions are all sitting within the mind—
Before I go any further, I’ll just tell you something: Like when I deal in the prison programs, they, these murderers and rapists and hardcore criminals, they have psychological counselling and social counselling, people trying to help them with their issues. And one of the things I introduced them to, the idea—most approaches are what I call two-dimensional, meaning the counsel is usually going to deal with the physical self and your mind. But our approach, the yogic approach, is what I call a three-dimensional paradigm, where we do deal with the body and its natural impulses and reactions, we do deal with the mind, but more importantly we recognize that within the body there is an eternal spiritual being there. The actual person is a resident within the body.
But because of the societies that we live in, very materialistic societies all over the world, (even religious societies can be very materialistic) everybody is raised with this false idea that this body is me, and this mind is also part of who I am, it is me. And from the yogic perspective this is a formula for unhappiness, because if this is the only framework that you are thinking about things and acting, you cannot really improve your life. You can make it a bit better. You can make it a bit calmer, but you cannot achieve the possibility of full and deep and amazing spiritual realization.
In one of the ancient yogic texts, there’s a book, it is called the Bhagavad-gita. This word in Sanskrit literally means the song of God. It’s really amazing. And the idea that’s a big part of it is to really understand that there is a big difference between using, as I said, using the mind, and being used by the mind. I mean how many times have you done something or behaved in a certain way, and then later you think, “I shouldn’t have done that.” Diba? [Isn’t that right?] Everybody has that experience, often? I wish I didn’t do that. I wish I didn’t say that. This is recognition that I have lost control of my life, because I am suddenly doing things and saying things that aren’t in my interest, that don’t make my life better.
In these—there’s two verses I will read that speak to this. The first one is:
“One must deliver oneself with the help of the mind…”
So right there, there’s a distinction between the mind and oneself:
“One must deliver oneself with the help of the mind and not degrade oneself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul and an enemy as well.”
And the next verse:
“For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends, but for one who has failed to do so the mind will remain the greatest enemy.”
Wow! That’s an amazing idea, that your own mind—I mean people, we dive into the mind and we follow it everywhere. All of the desires, all of the wishes, all of the thoughts, the suspicions, how we think about others, it’s like we’re lying down cuddled up with the mind, and wherever it’s going, I’m just following. And when the mind takes off, like anger for example, but greed, envy, fear, lust, covetousness, I can just name tons of different kinds of emotions that when they actually take over, then I am simply, almost against my will, dragged in so many directions and end up doing so many things, making decisions, taking actions that are not really in my interest.
So this concept, this idea that in a heightened emotional state you need to disengage, you need to ask for a “time out.”. If it is involving somebody in a face-to-face situation you can say things like, “I need a time out on this one. Mamaya nalang [later.] Right now I have lost control of my mind. I am too emotional. I am not going to be able to respond and deal with you, or deal with this situation, in this condition. Please allow me to just time out nalang [for now.] Step back. And give me some time to think and consider, and I will come back, and we will talk and find a way to deal with this.”
If we could be that clear, if we had that much control over our mind and over our life, our life would be infinitely better than it currently is. But to get to that position, to get to that state, requires practice, not only practice but guidance. How do we do that? How do I become a master of my mind and my emotions instead of being a slave to my desires, my emotions, my mind? How do I do that? One of the important parts—
And can I just say everybody uses mindfulness and meditation in so many ways, and I do not agree with all the ways these words are used. The tradition that I am coming in is a very ancient lineage, reaching back over 5000 years, where there has been a consistent passing down of amazing transcendental, or spiritual knowledge, or truth; and so what I am sharing with you is ancient truth, and it’s just as relevant now as it was in ancient times. And the more that your life can become directed by this type of knowledge, the better your life will be, in many ways, not just in a single way.
But the question is, what is it that empowers us to be able to disengage? Because when the mind’s going for it—I mean you look at what happens: When you get highly emotional, if—and we’ll talk about this in a little bit—you notice your breathing completely changes. When you are very afraid, or very angry, any of these heightened emotions you will find that mostly your breath is only occurring in the upper part of the chest (panting). People breathe like this, and it causes the body to begin to release different kinds of hormones and different kinds of enzymes, even. I know one, of course, is adrenaline which then causes the heart to start pumping really fast. Your body can even start trembling and shaking. You might just start crying and breaking down.
It starts in the mind, and then it takes over the body. It can also go the other way, might start a little in the mind, and then there could be changes that go on in the body that then have the effect of completely overwhelming the mind, and you heading down a path that will end up causing you misery
The foundational understanding that we really need to cultivate in our lives, the one thing that is actually the foundation for all forms of unhappiness is this lack of awareness that I am an eternal spiritual being. The more you become absorbed in the false idea that the body is me, the more unhappy your life will be overall.
And then you start building all these ideas—and I say this from a psychological perspective—
When we talk for instance about body image, females, and particularly younger ones, are far more susceptible to body image problems, because they develop all these insecurities, because they have heard these ideas from almost everybody in society, that in order to be lovable, in order to be desirable, in order to be happy, my body and my face has to look a certain way. And because of this, you have this all over the world, people struggling with eating disorders, and becoming focused on all kinds of artificial things including plastic surgery and everything. Everybody’s thinking, “Oh I need to put more plastic in my boobies. I need to put fillers in my butt.” And this weird thing that’s going on… In the Philippines it’s not bad; outside everybody’s putting all this crap in their lips. You know, like the big fish lips? It’s like what’s with that? That ain’t pretty. That’s weird. But it becomes socially acceptable.
But what it does is cause catastrophic problems when people become absorbed in the idea that the body is me, and I will find happiness, I will find love, I will find acceptance by having a certain look to my body. Oh my Gods, this is such a bad idea, and it causes so much misery. This is just one example.
Males have got a whole ‘nother thing going. They’re not as fragile about it, because they’re macho; but the same kind of problems manifest, maybe in different sorts of ways.
So when I say that, when people become absorbed in this false idea that the body is the self, when people no longer cultivate an understanding of the soul, of our spiritual essence, oh! this is the gateway to tremendous unhappiness and misfortune.
The foundation to make your life really good—I mean, I’m not talking about temporarily. You can get on a manifesting trip; you can get on a positive thinking trip; you can have a “life coach”; you can get all fired up and pumped up and go out and conquer the world and make all the money, but you still end up unhappy.
I’ve had an extraordinary life. I’ve gone from being a monk walking barefooted in India, traveling to holy places and studying; all the way through to working with one of the biggest jewellers in the world, flying around in private jets and dealing with kings and queens; and everything in between. So when I talk to you it’s not just about theory. It’s really about the practical reality of life.
The cultivation of this knowledge or awareness that I am an eternal spiritual being lies at the foundation of living a happy, a purposeful and a fulfilled life. You will be able to tackle everything, even tremendous adversity and difficulty, and be able to still feel at peace, to experience a different form of utterly fulfilling happiness, but it is from—it is based upon a spiritual experience. It’s not tied to this world.
The material energy, it’s just atoms, and atoms do not contain even one drop of happiness. It’s just atoms, and it’s just put together in different forms and shapes. And you can rub material energy on your body; you can put it in your mouth, in your ears, your eyes; you can bathe in it; and it can stimulate your senses; it can stimulate your mind, but it never produces actual fulfillment.
The biggest single problem that all human beings have in the world is a lack of spiritual nutrition. They use an example in the Vedas of a person who keeps a bird in a golden cage, and then they spend a lot of time polishing the cage. And it’s got gems on it, and it’s so beautiful, and they’re so proud of it. And they—all their focus is on the cage, and they forget about the bird. And inside the bird is all malnourished. Its feathers are falling out. It’s like so kawawa [pitiful.]
That’s kind of what we are trained to do. Particularly over the last hundred years there has been a concerted effort to brainwash everybody to become consumers, to just be greedy for more, always looking at what others have and desiring to have it too. And this was purposeful. It was not accidental. And we don’t even know how much we are influenced by all of this type of thinking.
The cultivation of spiritual knowledge, knowledge of the soul, or the self, is the great way to be—that is the foundation to begin building a new type of life. We call this yoga wisdom. We refer to this, the cultivation of real spiritual knowledge, we refer to it as yoga wisdom, and it’s important to cultivate, but what is more important is to deepen your understanding, and to begin an actual inward journey to discover who you truly are. Who are you? Deep there, who are you?
I was—shall I read this? Well I was having a little talk earlier with some people that have been practicing some of these meditation things, and I read them a blog that a woman wrote. And it’s like, if you were all alone, and you sat down, and you read this, it is heartbreaking to hear this person’s experience. I’ll read it to you. Okay?
So this is in America, and this woman—And I was kind of astonished that she was so honest, because everybody usually likes to hide what’s going on inside, and we put up a false front to family members, friends, relatives. We try to put up this façade, this external thing, but actually inside we have our own little world. We have our worries. We have our fears. We have our insecurities. We desire happiness. We desire love, to love and to be loved. And these desires are actually spiritual. They arise from the soul itself, and they cannot be fulfilled with material things, material experience, material relationships.
So she wrote,
“I have almost everything people talk about when it comes to happiness. A good husband, a great job that I enjoy, and it pays me well.
But here I am, feeling all confused, blank and painful. I feel numb, suffocated, lifeless.
For all the reasons I could think of, I should be grateful for the life that I have and be happy about it.
Yes, I am grateful. But I am not happy. I feel guilty for not being happy. I cannot talk to anyone. No one can understand. Even I can’t understand.
Everything is so quiet. All I can hear is my husband’s breath and the sound of my wall clock. I feel so lonely. I feel like I am the only person in the world, that has this feeling. This feeling overwhelms me. It eats me, it eats me alive, and I find myself lost in it, piece by piece.
I find myself pushing people away because I think they don’t truly understand me. I try to build a thick wall around me to protect myself and my lonesomeness. Behind the wall, I have the whole world of my own, except there is nothing in that world.
I know it is not healthy for me to stay in this world forever.
I know it is time for me to break the wall. But I don’t know how.”
Can you guys relate to this, or not? I think if people are truly honest everybody can relate to this to some degree or other.
The cultivation of a spiritual perspective, to begin the journey of self-discovery, to discover who you are, apart from this body and mind, who are you, that person deep inside, is like really, really important. And while the practice of meditation can help a person come to a state of some peacefulness and calmness, the real benefit of actual meditation is to come to know your own spiritual identity. There is nothing more powerful. There is nothing more life-changing than this, and this is foundational to a spiritual journey.
So I want to talk to you a little bit about what meditation is. Many people think that meditation is about being still and not having a lot of crazy thoughts and being in this sort of like state, but actually that’s not meditation. Some of these things were done by yogis as a preparation for meditation, but real meditation means to become immersed in that which is transcendental, or spiritual. And it’s like, what do you mean by that?
It’s kind of like, if you’ve been out, and you’re all sweaty and dirty, and you want to become clean and refreshed, if you’re by the beach you can swim in the ocean; if you’re by a river you would jump in the water. If you don’t have those you go to the bathroom and have a shower. Tabo nalang. Diba? [Use a bucket to scoop out water instead. Isn’t that right?] So water becomes a medium that brings balance to the body, and it cleanses it.
Spiritual sound, the use of spiritual sound is actually the easiest, the most powerful and the quickest way to be bathed in that which is spiritual. Since ancient times they have used spiritual sound for this purpose, and it has the effect of gradually purifying the heart and the mind, and making it so that you grow in spiritual experience, in spiritual realization. Spiritual sound: you’ve heard the term mantra, yeah? This word “mantra,” it is made up of two parts. Manaha and the tra. Manaha refers to the mind, and this tra means to be delivered, or to be liberated, or to be saved, from the mind.
So in the material condition we are just constantly living in our mind, and this can be a source of enormous challenge for us. And if the mind is out of control it will bring many unfortunate experiences and will result in much unhappiness.
Spiritual sound is not like material sound. If I want to eat a mango, and then I sit here and just close my eyes and go. “Mango, mango, manga, manga, mango, mang—“ It doesn’t matter how many times I say it, there is no mango there. Diba? [Isn’t that right?] There’s no taste. There’s no sensory experience. There’s no—because it is just hollow sound. Spiritual sound is not like this. Spiritual sound has an amazing potency that can actually make it so that when you immerse yourself in using spiritual sound as the central thing you do in meditation, it can completely change your life—not all at once…it is a gradual process.
So what I would like to do is to walk you through a little guided meditation. Okay with that or what? Kaya mo ba? [Can you do it?] So in this guided meditation, one of the things yogis would do in preparation for this is they would use breath. You remember earlier I said like when you’re really fearful or very angry the breath becomes very shallow, like just up here, and that people pant? Whereas deeper breathing brings a real calming experience to both the body and to the mind. And so in this guided meditation I’ll kind of talk you through some things, some things to think about or contemplate on as you begin some deep and relaxed breathing, and then I’ll introduce you to one form of yogic breathing that is called Nadi Shodana.
This word nadi literally means river, but what it’s referring to is that there are subtle channels within the body, and they talk about them being actually subtly connected to the nose. And when you inhale through one nostril and exhale through that nostril it affects you in a certain way, when you do it on the other side it affects you in a different way; and what it does is it brings balance to both the body and to the mind.
So usually when they practice this (and it’s not essential to do this. I’m just sharing some things that you might find helpful in your life), what they would do is usually take these two fingers, and they place them on the forehead right in between their eyebrows, and then they’re going to use the thumb and the ring finger to alternately block the nostril to guide the inhaling and the exhaling. And so we’ll begin, in the guided meditation—I’m just telling you about it now so when it comes, what’s going on. You can choose to do it, or not to do it if you don’t want to, or you feel uncomfortable, just relax and continue to breathe deeply. But they would take a deep breath, and then using the thumb from the right hand to block the nose, the right nostril, they would exhale through the left nostril. And they said, the first time you do this it eliminates certain impurities from the body and tensions from the mind. And then you’ll inhale through the same nostril, and then block that with your ring finger, and release the thumb, and you’ll exhale out here, then in the same nostril, blocking, releasing the other one, exhale. In out, in out, like this. We’ll just do it a few times, and you’ll experience some benefit from it.
And then once we’re in a relaxed state, and we’ve talked you through some things that you can consider in your mind, we will begin using a mantra coupled with our breathing. We will take very deep breath and when we breathe in, we will say the spiritual sound in our mind, and then as we exhale together we will all say the sound aloud. If you feel a little self-conscious close your eyes para you are alone na. [so that you are alone.] And you don’t have to consider whether somebody’s looking or not, whether you’re doing it right. Just relax. This will be a little bit of fun.
And then after we’ve done this a few times, then we will sing this sound, the same short mantra. It’s just one word, and others, then it will be your turn to respond, then I will sing it and you’ll respond, but we’re doing it with a guided track. And then at the end of it we’ll just talk a little bit, and you can let me know if you thought that was a good experience or not. I actually have online a whole bunch of guided meditations that people can use.
So the mantra that we’re going to use, which is probably visible to some people—oh you got over there too? Okay, do we have it there? No, that’s a sign or things. Okay. Where is it? It’s here, dito lang [just here.] So, sorry guys, weird shape room. Oh, you have over there din? [as well?]
So this mantra is made up of four syllables Gaur Ra Ang Ga. The word Gauranga literally means golden or the golden one, and it speaks to a higher spiritual reality, a higher spiritual truth that is by nature effulgent and golden. It is actually referencing God, or a supreme spiritual being. It’s not referencing someone’s—we’re not interested in promoting a religious point of view. People can have their own religious or spiritual practices. These things that we’re talking about are something that can aid anyone, whether you have any higher spiritual thing that you’re dealing with like God or whatever, or even if you’re a total atheist. Okay lang basta you try. [That’s okay, as long as you try.] And you will experience a very nice experience that will actually have a transformative effect on your life.
So do we have the mantras up? Yeah? There is over there, or no? Okay.
Just so you got it right, it’s—hindi komplikado yan [it’s not complicated.] Gaur. Say Gaur; Ra; Ang; Ga. Wow. Got it. So we’ll begin the practice. I do recommend that maybe you do close your eyes, just so you’re not distracted by what’s going on and people around you, and just follow along with it. Are we ready to go? Okay? Thank you.
Sit comfortably with your back supported. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Draw your mind away from all other thoughts and focus on the feeling of the breath as it enters and leaves your body. Let your breath become slower and deeper. Become aware of how your body is breathing automatically. Observe it in a detached way. Say to yourself, “I am watching my body breathe. I am not the legs, the arms, the abdomen, nor am I the body. I am an observer, distinct from my body.” Feel the inward breath rejuvenating the body, and feel the outward breath relaxing and releasing tension from the body. Feel your shoulders relax, releasing tension down through your arms, wrists and hands. Feel the entire body relax with each outward breath.
Now become aware of your mind. Become aware of how you, the self, are distinct from the thinking process. Experience how you can watch the mind as an observer, simply watching the passing flow of thoughts, feelings and images. You don’t react. You are separate and detached from the mind. Say to yourself, “I make no effort to think about thoughts, but they come automatically. I am watching the thoughts flow through my mind, but I am aloof from them. I am the silent witness of my mind’s activities. I am the self, different from the mind and the body.”
Now, keeping your eyes closed raise your right hand to your forehead, place your index and middle finger between your eyebrows. Inhale, and then close your right nostril with your thumb, and exhale through your left. Then inhale through the left nostril. Close your left nostril with your ring finger, and exhale through the right nostril. Continue this alternating breath from one nostril to the other.
(Time passes doing the practice.)
We will finish by exhaling through the right nostril and then lowering your hand breathing deeply through both nostrils. Relax your breath, your chest and your lungs. Be aware of how your breath is now flowing smoothly and effortlessly, and your mind is more focused and alert.
Now that you are more relaxed, and your breathing has slowed down we will begin meditation on the sacred Gauranga mantra. We will break the mantra into four distinct syllables. Gaur Ra Ang Ga. While inhaling we will say the sacred mantra Gaur Ra Ang Ga within our mind, and when we exhale we will say it out loud. Stretch it out so the sound takes up the whole exhalation, and feel it resonate throughout your whole body. If you notice that your mind has become distracted by other thoughts, just be aware that it has wandered, and then gently bring it back to your breath and the sound of the mantra.
Let’s begin. As we inhale mentally say Gaur Ra Ang Ga. Now out loud as we exhale Gaur Ra Ang Ga.
(Practice continues for some time)
Keep your eyes closed to bring your breathing back to normal. Allow your mind to rest on the beautiful sound of the mantra, or join in if you are ready.
(Gauranga kirtan continues for some time)
Just bring your breathing [words inaudible], and when you’re ready just come out of the meditation. Open your eyes. Nice, or no? Yeah?
So we actually have a lot of resources online, different types of guided meditation, some that you can just even lie down and just listen to and become absorbed. And it will have the effect, like I mentioned earlier, of actually beginning to really change your mind, and it will empower you to be more thoughtful and to live a more conscious life. And as I mentioned, this is only the beginning of things.
And of course, what’s important is to try and avail of some of these resources to build your own meditation practice, even if you only do it for like 20 minutes every day. I mean the immediate effect is what? All the things, that the load that you’re carrying around, and all the responsibilities and the tensions in your life, when you do this it’s like it’s gone, and it’s like a huge break from the struggle of life itself. But as I said it has a much deeper effect. It helps you to become increasingly more thoughtful about the reality of your own spiritual being, who you truly are, and this of course, is only the beginning of this spiritual journey.
So that’s about all I got for you. Actually, there’s so much, but we don’t have enough time; but what I’d like to do is just ask if anybody has any question that you would like to raise or something you wanted to ask about? Then—do we have some people with a mike or something? Meron ba? [Is there any?] Okay, so just let me know if anybody wants to ask anything, and I will try to answer your questions. While you’re thinking—I mean you may not have any question. That’s fine. Don’t feel obliged.
After, in wrapping up, I’ll introduce you to another form of meditative practice, what they call kirtan, which is like a group chanting of mantras but in a musical way, to music. And it’s like the easiest, and I promise, the most powerful form of meditation. That is truly transformative.
Can I have (reaching for guitar)
So I’m going to—in kirtan meditation we—there’s usually somebody who leads this meditation. You don’t have to close your eyes unless you’re jahe [shy] because you’re going to sing. It doesn’t matter if your voice is good or not good. That’s not the point. It’s not about those kind of consideration. And usually you have someone that is leading the kirtan. So I will sing a mantra twice, and then everybody can respond and also sing twice. Then I will sing again, then you’ll respond. So the mantra that I’m going to use is very simple: Aum Hari Aum.
This word or this sound aum, it means the highest spiritual truth. Some people may think of it just as a high spiritual reality. Some people may think and understand it is the sound representation of God. The word Hari, in Sanskrit, it means he who takes away the burden of our heart.
Material life means we are carrying always a big load. When you are a child, you don’t think about anything. You’re just running around, even running around in circles is fun. As you get older life becomes less and less wonderful, and when you are very old it’s kind of like, [mimes old body] “Ssshhh! Ingay ingay naman.” [It’s so noisy.] You’ve become so grumpy, diba? [Isn’t that right?] It’s because people have experienced, in the beginning there were many promises, I thought everything was going to be so amazing; but then over time I had many struggles, I have come to learn many things. My body is now—cannot do what it used to do; and so people feel the weight of—and we carry from different damaged relationships, dashed hopes, we carry a big burden within our heart. And this word Hari means to have that burden lifted from our heart. Okay?