Mipam

Lama Yongden
SLG Books
ISBN 0-943389-33-X

51Y09V1J2NL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_First published in 1938 this inspired book has been called the ‘First Tibetan Novel’. Mipam is a fictional account of a seeker’s search for love, spirituality, compassion and adventure. Our hero is beset by all kinds of temptations and difficulty before he finally finds his place in the world.

Beautifully written, and illustrated with Tibetan wood block prints, Lama Yongden shares the culture and environment of old Tibet. He draws us into his characters’ struggles between the heart and mind, the spiritual and worldly, their seeking and finding.

Puzzled by this unexpected turn of career in his life from hermit to fiction writer, Lama Yongden notes that:

“Never was the writer’s vocation more unforeseen than in my own case. My life, so it seemed, was destined to be passed, serenely and studiously, in a Tibetan monastery, and had I risen to the rank of a Tibetan writer, my works, in all probability, would have been philosophical treatises, or commentaries on one or other of the numerous doctrines which for centuries past have fed the meditations and the controversies of the learned Lamas of my native land.” 

In a prose similar to his notes, Lama Yongden takes us on a tender and enlightening inner journey that is both moving and compelling. Significant portions of the book feel biographical, which adds to its mystery.

The first chapter begins:

“Portents accompanied his birth. Before dawn, a supernatural light was diffused beneath the lofty trees of the forest on the verge of which rose the rude dwelling of his parents. There alighted upon its thatched roof a pair of birds with golden crests, although it was not the season for their migration. After a long spell of drought, which had sorely tried the thirsty vegetations and the creatures that depended upon it for their food, quite suddenly, although the sun was shining, the earth was gladdened by an abundant shower of rain. A large leopard appeared close to the house, calm, dignified and unafraid, contemplating with attentive eyes the window of the room in which the child was entering the world, and the mother of the new-born babe declared that she had heard, all about her, the songs of invisible beings.” 

This book is a rare treat for aspirants.

 

Books By Swamiji

Happy For No Good Reason

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A best selling guide to meditation, this book explores the practice and philosophy of meditation including traditional techniques of mantra (the repetition of the phrase) and witness-consciousness (watching the thoughts). You will see how to apply these teachings in every day situations, by developing a moment to moment awareness of the love, joy and peace that unfolds from the center of your being.

The book comes with a CD that, after you read the first two chapters, will have you meditating for the first time within 30 minutes.

 

Buy online at Ashram Bookstore

Consciousness Is Everything

Conciousness-200x300Consciousness is the most intimate experience of life, the essence of life itself. Among the many spiritual traditions born and developed in India, one ancient philosophy–Kashmir Shaivism–has explored it completely. Until now, Kashmir Shaivism was an esoteric filed accessible only to a few scholars and other specialists.

Here, for the first time, Swami Shankarananda, a Self-realised spiritual master, presents the wisdom of this powerful tradition in a form that will delight and inspire all spiritual seekers. He explores the teachings in rich detail, elucidating ideas and meditative practices while drawing upon a vast canvas of many great beings, wisdom traditions and personal experience. This is a book that will transform you.

Consciousness Is Everything is a book that will transform you. It is a resource and guide towards investigating and deepening your experience of your own Consciousness.

Buy online at Ashram Bookstore

Self-inquiry: Using your Awareness to unblock your life.

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In this groundbreaking book, meditation master Swami Shankarananda adapts the ancient path of Self-inquiry to contemporary life.

The Shiva Process method of Self-inquiry engages your awareness to effectively remove blocks and enliven the Shakti in the areas of career, relationship, health and spirituality. Building on the teachings of Kashmir Shaivism and Sri Ramana Maharshi, Swamiji provides the tools to reveal  your true nature.

The accompanying CD guides you step by step though a series of inquiries to help you connect with your inner wisdom. You will be transformed and empowered in every aspect of your life.

Buy online at Ashram Bookstore

I Can’t Hear You I Have A Carrot In My Ear

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Swamiji responds to questions from seekers about life, spiritual practice and philosophy. It is a guidebook to the inner experience, offering insights and techniques to dissolve ignorance and live with energy and awareness.

Topics include: the Self and Consciousness, meditation, Self-inquiry, mantra, the Guru, Kundalini, Shakti, the mind, relationships, work and career, money, communicating with truth and compassion.

 

Buy online at Ashram Bookstore.

Death Must Die

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Death Must Die

A Western Woman’s Life-Long Spiritual Quest in India with Shree Anandamayi MaBased on the Diaries of Atmananda
Ram Alexander
Publisher: First Impression New Delhi
ISBN: 81 86569 32 4

Swami Atmananda never thought her diaries would be read by anyone but herself. A uniquely independent woman for her time, as a young girl maturing in the 40s she was absorbed in Western intellectual and artistic culture. At the first touch of spiritual knowledge she was inspired to explore more deeply her own nature and the nature of reality. Eventually she gave Western comforts up to seek the truth.

Her first spiritual influence was the Theosophical Society, and so she gravitated to Krishnamurti. Dissatisfied still, she was led to the great saint Anandamayi Ma but not without conflict as to whose presence she would take refuge. As a Westerner and a woman, the Brahmin orthodox tested her determination to be accepted as a disciple by Anandamayi Ma.

There is a natural mystery in the drama of her spiritual life, which she takes seriously. Her diaries are frank, honest and sometimes tortured as her spiritual unfolding progresses. She is tormented by the desire for personal love and a personal life, and the longing for liberation, which set up an internal conflict that tears her apart. Doubt is a deadly poison on the path, but ultimately she resolves these two passions and accepts her destiny as a disciple and swami.

On January 23, 1946 she writes:

I am not sincere, my surrender is only a farce. Therefore I cannot concentrate. Nowadays thoughts about the details of how I am going to drop work and what to do with all my things etc. creep into my mind. Then when I think of giving all I have to Her, it occurs to me that suppose I do not get on in the Ashram, what will I do? Suppose She won’t give me money to travel with Her, etc. Is that surrender? But I feel happy to prostrate myself on the ground before her and say: “Take all and make me the smallest particle of yourself.”

Atmananda eventually became a translator for many Westerners who found themselves at Ma Anandamayi’s Ashram. She also edited the writings and books that were published during and after her life. One of the most beautiful excerpts from a conversation Ma had with Swami Premanand was translated by her. Ma advised him:

Meditate on God all the time, whatever you do, wherever you are. Remember that whatever you see, whatever you hear, is He alone. Pain exists because you believe yourself to be separate. Don’t consider anyone as separate from yourself. Regard everyone as your friend…

American Veda

This book is by Philip Goldberg, an ordained interfaith minister, and founder of Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates who has thoroughly researched Hinduism’s impact on North America from the 50s until now.

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American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation
How Indian Spirituality Changed the West
Philip Goldberg
Publisher: Harmony Books, Random House
ISBN: 978 0 385 52134 5

This book fills a unique niche as a commentary on the rise of Vedic teachings, and the Gurus who transmitted them in America. Philip Goldberg is a wonderful writer and spiritual analyst who examined the Vedic exodus from the East to the West, and its considerable influence on American culture.

He writes:

Vedanta-Yoga is a kind of empirical science of the inner life; its postulates can be tested in the laboratory of one’s own consciousness, using the test tubes and Bunsen burners of yogic disciplines. And the goal does not have to be union with God, or Self-realisation; it can be something instrumental, like reduced stress or a clearer mind. In other words, what some saw as theology, others saw as testable hypotheses. What some viewed as spiritual practices, others viewed as therapies.

Even though Goldberg focuses on America, he addresses a dilemma a lot of Westerners face. Buddhists call themselves Buddhists, Christians call themselves Christians, and Jews call themselves Jews. But what do Westerners who have a Guru and have embraced Hindu teachings like yoga and meditation, call themselves? Goldberg made a choice to move away from calling the teachings ‘Hindu’ or ‘Hinduism’ and instead calls the movement by the book’s title ‘American Veda’.

Goldberg eloquently discusses the evolutionary relationship between East and West as a kind of cultural ‘transmission,’ which is seeping into every aspect of American thought and life. He relates stories and anecdotes of the most influential Gurus, practitioners and students of Eastern thought. He traces the spiritual history of Vedic teachings in America, from the first hatha yoga teacher, to the present teachers.

This book is readable, entertaining and immensely interesting. Goldberg is not just a scholar, he is also a practitioner who brings his years of experience and understanding of yoga to the pages.

 

The Supreme Yoga: Yoga Vasishtha

 

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Translated by Swami Venkatesananda

Publisher: The Chiltern Yoga Trust (Australia) ISBN 0 9590690 0 3

The Yoga Vasishtha is one of the most noble spiritual works ever written. Translating such an epic work is not easy, but Swami Venkatesananda, a disciple of the late great Swami Shivananda, has done these teachings justice. He is lucid and devotional in his rendition.

The Gurus of this book use the stories of seekers’ lives as a teaching device. Stories cleverly avoid confronting disciples directly. They soften the teachings and the students’ responsibility is to intuit the message the guru is trying to convey. Each story unfolds as a drama of anger, fear, sorrow, vengeance and suffering but also the means to overcome them.

We begin with a question from one sage to another, ‘O Sage, kindly enlighten me on this problem of liberation—which one of the two is conducive to liberation, work or knowledge?’

The sage Agastya replies, ‘Verily birds are able to fly with their two wings: even so both work and knowledge together lead to the supreme goal of liberation.’

Agastya reminds the questioner of an incident where a King refused an invitation to enter heaven. Perplexed by his refusal Indra, the Lord of heaven, sent him to Valmiki, the narrator of most of this wonderful book, for advice.

Thus the story within a story continues when Valmiki, a great renunciant and guru, tells how the sage Vasishtha helped Lord Ram overcome the despair and sorrow inherent in life, to attain liberation.

These are some of the most beautiful yogic teachings available. They communicate the intelligence, energy and love of the Self and inspire meditation.

 

How To Know God

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Translated with a commentary by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood

Vedanta Press  ISBN 0 87481 041 8

I recommend this book for beginning practitioners who want to deepen their understanding of meditation and yoga.

 

 

The authors offer us a clear exposition of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. There are wonderful anecdotes and metaphors that explain the complex mental gymnastics of yoga.

Yogis often use sleep as an analogy to describe a deep state of meditation and how we come close to the inner Self in sleep. Sutra 1.10 states, ‘Sleep is a wave of thought about nothingness’. The writers explain that the sleep state is actually a ‘positive experience of nothingness’. There is a sense of self, a witness of our experience, even when we sleep for when we awaken we know that we slept.

In my early years of meditation I went into a deep trance state that felt similar to sleep except that when I came out of it I felt a lot of energy. Over time I became more awake in my meditation, more conscious of what was happening in my mind. My meditation went from ‘sleep’ to ‘waking’. True to Patanjali’s sutra, I was aware of what had happened both when I was ‘asleep’ and when I ‘awoke’.

Another striking commentary is Sutra 1.36: ‘Concentration may also be attained by fixing the mind upon the Inner Light, which is beyond sorrow.’

‘The ancient yogis believed that there was an actual centre of spiritual consciousness, call the “lotus of the heart”, situated between the abdomen and the thorax, which could be revealed in deep meditation. They claimed that it had the form of a lotus and that it shone with an inner light. It was said to be “beyond sorrow”, since those who saw it were filled with an extraordinary sense of peace and joy.’

Their writing is inspirational and encouraging. They reassure us that with perseverance we can attain ‘peace and joy.’

Consciousness Is Everything

34246_412904862163_4720446_nConsciousness Is Everything:
The Yoga of Kashmir Shaivism 

Swami Shankarananda
Shaktipat Press
ISBN 0 9750995

By focusing on the revelation of supreme Consciousness
He unveils the inner Self. Thus great Shiva unfolds
His prodigious game of bondage and liberation.
Abhinavagupta, Paramarthasara, Verse 33

‘Swami Shankarananda has succeeded in making Kashmir’s Shaiva Yoga come alive in these pages, and I consider this work the best introduction to that tradition thus far.’ Georg Feuerstein

Two main spiritual philosophies flow from Hinduism. One is grounded in the Vedas and the other in the Tantras. The Vedic school was and perhaps still is, patriarchal, elitist and available only to educated Brahmin boys and men, while Tantra is a path for householders, which includes women and people of all castes. The Vedas encourage renunciation and retreat from the world, while Tantra engages with the world and uses daily life as food for spiritual transformation.

The heart of the Tantras is expressed in Kashmir Shaivism, a philosophy brought to the West by two gurus, Swami Muktananda of Ganeshpuri, India, and Lakshman Joo of Kashmir.

Vedanta and Shaivism clash in their basic premise. Vedanta considers the world to be maya, delusion and only ‘Brahman [the Absolute] is real’ while Shaivism contends that, ´Everything is Consciousness’. These two radically opposing points of view resolve only when a seeker attains knowledge of the Self.

There are few Shaivite texts that, unless you are a scholar, offer Westerners a way into its esoteric and mysterious teachings. However, Swami Shankarananda has managed to write a lucid and approachable book that outlines the beauty and power of this dynamic teaching. He uses anecdotes from his own meditation, his profound wisdom and wealth of teaching experience to explain the enigmatic aphorisms. The contemplations Swamiji has outlined in this book guide the meditator to a practical understanding of Shaivism. He writes:

Kashmir Shaivism is a philosophy of salvation—not just an intellectual system. It provides methods, a system practice, designed to attain moksha, liberation from the material world and Self-realisation. And so, it discusses sadhana: meditation techniques and understandings that are useful today.

Kashmir Shaivism is full of the light and wonder of spirituality. It is compassionate, intelligent, wise and powerful. These teachings spontaneously uplift and transform the mind, guiding it toward one of the highest possible understandings of life and the inner Self.

Buy online now.