It is so very uplifting and beautiful when the temple is filled with people chanting. It permeates the temple and cultures the heart with an exquisite feeling of sublime spirituality and devotion to God. It is nice that some of the Mount Soma residents have been exploring and enjoying chanting. Like many things, whether or not one chooses to chant is certainly a personal choice, but if done wisely it can be beneficial. Like everything, it boils down to ‘healthy relationship with’. I recently discussed chanting with Pandit Prasad and we offer the following:
The healing benefits of chanting can be particularly enjoyed if there are psychological, energetic, or emotional blocks. Clearing such blocks through chanting can, of course, be highly beneficial and open the physiology and energy system with numerous benefits possible. Some find such benefits through other pathways… for example, dance, singing, various forms of yoga or healing, personal relationships, etc.
When people are meditating regularly for a long period of time, impurities can get stirred up as they clear out of the physiology. Things like chanting, exercise, etc. can help clear them and the resultant experiences can then be quite desirable, even dramatic. Of course, that is an individual matter. Some will take to and derive benefit from one thing. Others will take to another based upon physiological needs and personal affinities.
At times, the result of adding exercise, chanting, or diet change can be truly dramatic. We just need to keep them in the context of the nature and structure of life and existence, such as we have discussed in the school. In our enthusiasm, when we start a new practice, it is best to not go overboard. Of course, such enthusiasm is understandable, though it is always best when we come back into balance.
As with all new practices, there are certain guidelines we do well to note:
Chanting for some can result in excess emotional indulgence which can turn a person into what is often called a “bliss ninny.” Then they begin to judge another person’s level of enlightenment based upon “bliss ninny” standards. This is common in many religions and social groups. Those who behave in a certain manner are considered more ‘spiritually evolved.’ Of course, we know that another person’s level of consciousness cannot be judged based upon the surface or upon our own personal affinities.
When the heart is overly enlivened (as described in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine), it can distort perception. When blocks are cleared and emotions are excessively indulged, people can blur emotions with enlightenment. That can become an obstacle to true spiritual growth. Getting emotional about union with God can be confused with deeper union which transcends emotions. In such a case, chanting (like other things) can become a distraction that pulls people away from a deeper spiritual path. Discernment can be compromised.
We also do well to remember the elevator analogy: when you have been meditating and evolving rapidly, it is like climbing high in an elevator. If you take a moment to look at the view from that height, it is spectacular. So the inclination can be to stay with that level, be distracted by it, and hesitate to go back to what got you to that level in the first place. As a result, you can cease to continue climbing in the elevator to even higher levels.
It is as if for many years we have been cultivating a beautiful garden with fruit trees, etc. Then, if we pick a fruit and enjoy it, we may think it is the fruit that gave the gift. Actually, of course, the real gift is the cultivation that bore the fruit, not the picking of the fruit. Years of meditation and study make many fruits available, and the physiology of meditators becomes like ripe fruit. Various practices you then employ can pick the wonderful fruits we have been cultivating.
Excess chanting can even create a hypnotic state of euphoria. For that reason, some temples in India do not allow certain groups of people following such a path to even enter the temple. As stated earlier, those hypnotic states can lead a person to believe they are getting enlightened, when actually they are being misled. After spending time in India, many people become acutely aware of all sorts of practices done in the name of spiritual growth, that are more truly forms of mind manipulation. They could be forms of chanting, healing, or various spiritual practices. That is why I like to recommend: “Safety first!”
Bottom line: Like everything else, it is a matter of ‘relationship with’. Better to have a good relationship with a bad thing (i.e., staying away from it), than a bad relationship with a good thing (for example, excessive indulgence in it or emphasis upon it).
Remember that the deepest level of Bhakti transcends emotions. Bhakti is rooted in the transcendental depth of your being. Personally, I most cherish the experience of Bhakti I enjoy in deep meditation. However, I also love listening to, and being swept away by, the feeling evoked when the visitors chant at temple gatherings. When Pandits gather and chant together, it is exquisite.
So, if you enjoy chanting, do so wisely and be sure the Mantras you use, and the amount and ways you use them is done properly. If you are at Mount Soma, it is wise to take advantage of the opportunityto have it monitored. Panditji and I are asking that you allow us to do so. If you would like to chant, please let us know what you would like to do, so Panditji and I can confer with one another and offer our assistance. Then, with our blessings, if you like chanting and feel you are getting benefit from it, ENJOY!
I saw “What is Genius? – Bruce Lee #1” again, and there you said like Bruce Lee refined his physiology through Martial Arts, and there are many different ways to do it. Last time I didn’t even notice that when I saw it, but I always felt there were more ways to grow.
There is one poet they say, and he himself says, it was his breath, his life, his therapy to create poetry and rhymes.
So things like art, sports, etc, can evolve you in a major way, like Bruce Lee did for himself?
To which I respond:
Every field of pursuit can be a path to enlightenment. However rapid evolution through some is more likely than through others. Yet the approach to any field can be constructive or destructive. That of course includes the field of spirituality.
Thanks to Mary for submitting the following link in response to the Toothpaste, Diatoms, and World Peace blog. Evidently, a bacterium that consumes plastics in the ocean is already in the works! Next will be mercury and air pollution. Rather ironic, isn’t it, that bacteria and viruses may go a long way in the healing of our planet.
With all the mountain rain run-off and underground mountain streams, I had to put a water retention pond in my backyard. This year, I decided to clear up the algae in the pond water. I learned (and am continuing to learn) a lot. Bottom line: A pond is a delicate multivariable ecosystem world. To be healthy, it must be cultured as such.
Twenty percent of our world’s oxygen comes from diatoms, which are a particular type of algae with a clear, silica, glass-like cell wall. When the pond is considered as a whole and is balanced, healthy diatoms outcompete unhealthy algae. The water becomes clear and healthy. A minuscule amount of a balancing and culturing approach can quickly transform unhealthy into healthy.
Revitin is a new toothpaste that all but eliminates tarter by introducing a balanced ecosystem in the mouth. Simple, with dramatic results!
Similarly, a healthy world is a delicate balance of limitless variables. For health, for world peace, the wholeness value of the ecosystem must be addressed as the central theme. The whole is more than the sum of the parts. The world will not be healed by isolating parts without focus on the wholeness value.
As with diatoms and a backyard pond, with a proper approach, pollution of the planet and hearts and minds of its people can be transformed, as if magically. Diatom-like substances will then be developed that will, in minuscule amounts, clear the sky of pollution and clear the oceans of plastics and mercury. When done wisely, a seemingly minuscule introduction of a balancing influence can transform a turbulent world into a world of peace and harmony. However, the health is rooted in the source of wholeness, the Transcendent, Ishwara. Mount Soma is dedicated to the introduction of that culturing and balancing influence as prescribed through Vedic technology.
An interesting point: In the transformation process of a pond, the period of time can occur when the pond’s appearance becomes worse—cloudier. Similarly, when a whole-istic healing influence is introduced in the world, it can trigger confusion, anger, and resistance in the hearts and minds of people. Everything maps. We can learn a lot about the attainment of world peace from diatoms and toothpaste.
Let’s take a step back and look. What is more important than what we think and what we feel? At first glance, we may respond with: “Nothing.” What we think and what we feel determines everything about the decisions we make and the lives we live. This includes our opinions regarding God, other people, ourselves, the world, our lives, our loved ones, our enemies… everything.
Our education, our upbringing, our life experiences all determine our thoughts and feelings. That determines not only what we think/feel but also who and what we believe ourselves to be.
So what could be more important? Can anything be more important? The answer is “yes.” It is not only important but essential. What is more important than what, is how we think/feel. How determines what we think/feel. We are speaking here, not only of our individual psychological makeups, but also the sociological realities of being human. Understanding that ‘how’ enables us to understand and responsibly deal with what lies beyond the limitations of the psychological and sociological dynamics of our lives. There is much to say about how our minds and hearts are conditioned to think/feel what we do. Maharishi Patanjali had a lot to say on the subject regarding the chit (storehouse of our impressions) as well as what lies beyond the chit.
Sociologically, we do well to consider the ‘herd mentality’ of our species. Groups sway the mentality of their members. A herd mentality, or ‘group think’, reigns. It acts like wind over a wheat field, swaying everything in its path in a particular direction. The mind and heart follow, be it in a family dynamic, a community, a subculture, culture, nation, etc. We then can, and do, justify those feelings with the intellect. The thoughts justify the feelings and the feelings justify the thoughts. Facts are twisted and spun to justify the mentality. ‘Truth’ becomes more a matter of perspective than reality. Perspective is really just a matter of the way the wind blows. The reality is denied and judged in favor of the perspective, no matter how twisted. Back in the 60s, the wind blew many in the direction of being independent, ‘a man who hears a different drum a-drumming.’ But it is not hard to see that this too was just the herd mentality of the time, a mass cry for freedom of thought that was really just another wind blowing a herd mentality in still another trance-like direction. Politicians strive to capture a herd mentality and channel it in a direction. Their unspoken war cry is: “To rule a nation, capture the herd mentality.”
Now the next step in our investigation is to consider the role of a culture. Cultures culture the mentality of the people. When the culture is unhealthy, it sways the people in an unhealthy direction. An unhealthy herd mentality ultimately leads to an unhealthy or even tragic end. We can easily see examples in history as well as current events. But the alternative is not rebellion against all culture—not anarchy. A healthy culture cultures the hearts and minds of the people in a healthy direction.
So what determines the health of a culture? Be it on an individual, small group, subcultural, local, or national level, there is only one thing that brings true health. That is harmony with the underlying source of our being which is, in fact, the underlying source of all existence. Some call it Mother Nature. Some call it the unified field. Some call it God. Some do not believe in it at all. Some simply believe in what they feel, regardless of the way the wind has blown them in whatever direction it did. Then their intellect kicks in and justifies whatever it is they are feeling. As the poet, Bob Dylan, said, “Of war and peace the truth just twists.” To digress, we can add that money sways mentalities with formidable strength.
Unfortunately, most believe in what they think/feel more than anything else. This sadly includes what they think/feel about the underlying source: God or whatever word you choose. Even religious convictions are determined by the way the wind is blowing. We believe in the way the wind has blown us beyond all else.
So what is the solution? What is the way out? Short term, the solution is humility. Self-righteous adherence to thoughts and feelings are simply full blown identity with the direction the wind blows. Humility is the flip side of wisdom. The only true knowing is knowing that you know nothing. After all, thoughts are what we think we know, nothing more.
The way out then, is to more and more fully rest into that level of life that lies deeper than our conditioned thoughts/feelings—lies deeper than the chit spoken of by Maharishi Patanjali thousands of years ago. For this, proper meditation is our most powerful tool. (We use the word “proper” because many, even most, meditations simply reinforce an identity with a particular mentality, regardless of how noble it may appear to the conditioned mind.) More and more fully, we live a level of life that is free from the limitation of conditioning. If we do have an identity, a belief system, around that, the limited identity melts away as we meditate. More and more fully, we live a life free from limitation and in harmony with Nature, with the Divine, with God—or however you choose to say it.
Bottom line is, nature knows best. That is to say, your true nature is Divine. It is not the result of your thoughts/feelings. It lies beyond thoughts and emotions. It is the source of health—healthy thoughts/feelings. As the stress and strain (chit, conditioning) is released from the physiology, we awaken to our true nature. As more and more members of society awaken more and more to that depth of being, the culture becomes healthy. Then the wind blows in a healthy direction. Then peace and harmony nurtures the health, lives, mentality, and hearts of the people. Then wisdom becomes our guiding light.
When veggies get ‘stressed,’ they become toxic. Different things can stress different veggies. For example, celery as it gets older gets stressed. Potatoes kept in the light become stressed; sometimes you can even see the sprouts growing out of them. Many veggies become stressed when they are reheated leftovers or overcooked. I believe we are all quite able to tell when our veggies are stressed. If we just pay attention, we can feel it. It’s sort of like the blog I just wrote about the Microbiome (gut bacteria).
The population of bacteria within the gut is known as a microbiome. Of course, there are microbiomes throughout the entire physiology, but here we are focusing on the microbiome in the digestive system – predominantly the gut. Oftentimes when we eat, we feel like we’re eating for ourselves. However, an interesting approach is to eat for your entire population, i.e., yourself along with your microbiome. When you’re doing this, you can even feel into the entire microbiome within your gut. You may feel like that’s just your imagination, but interestingly enough, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you’re putting attention onto the entire population, yourself along with your microbiome. In so doing, you become attentive to the greater dynamic of your digestive process.
Ayurveda has recognized for thousands of years that the health of the digestive system is a major determining factor to the health of the entire physiology. Even body builders say that it’s all about digestion. Scientists now believe not only that this is true, but also that autoimmune diseases are rooted in a microbiome imbalance.
I don’t think it’s really all that hard once you feel into the microbiome and put your attention on it. Next time you eat, why not try it out? You may find that how well a meal sits with you is largely determined by how well it fits with your microbiome.
Someone was told by a Chinese doctor that they had arthritis. The person was confused, claiming their joints always felt fine, so the doctor explained the following:
Arthritis is poison (toxins, ama) in the body. It starts in the soft tissues… skin, muscle, etc. Over time, it goes deeper and deeper until it gets into the bone. Clearing toxins clears arthritis. Of course, when too advanced, it will not likely be reversed.
Our resident chiropractor, whom some affectionately call “Dr. Muscles,” shared the following 4-minute workout with me. It is consistent with the sort of things Maharishi said about not doing intense exercise (“Why do you want to breathe like a horse?”) and also what I have been told by a number of Chinese healing arts practitioners.
It consists of four exercises. The second set of 10 reps is quite similar to the arm swinging exercise Dr. Kuai taught us. In the video below, Zach Bush alternates which arm goes up while the other goes down. It is also fine to have both go up and down together as is shown in other videos about this routine.
I understand that organic Macha from Japan is the best. The ‘ceremonial’ version is less bitter, but more expensive. Personally, I just use the culinary version and am very happy with it. I just add it to hot water, sweetener of choice, and the chai spices that are sold in the Mount Soma gift shop.
Unfortunately, some studies show that adding milk to tea (or cocoa) cancels the health benefits.
I am sure many of you are far more familiar with Matcha than I am. Comments are welcome.