Swami Nityamuktananda Saraswati (Dr. Christa-Maria Herrmann), reaffirmed her Swami vows with Swami Veda Bharati early in 2007, and is a regular, highly prized member of Swami Veda's network of teachers. German by birth, naturalized British, Swami Nitya, as she is called, has a small ashram in the far west of Cornwall, UK. Although she originally studied Theology, her university studies soon expanded to Education, Psychology, Philosophy and Art and Design (Ceramics). Different teaching jobs (in colleges and universities) in various countries followed. At the center of her studies (as well as her teaching) was always the subject of 'Self-awareness'.
We had just one of the coldest winters in Europe; and for many it brought real hardship. For me the highlight was a walk by the sea, one a cold frosty mid-morning; it had been so cold that the fringe where the sea laps ashore was ice, however in the midday sun it was beautiful warm.
In fact it was truly amazing. There was no wind and the sea was like a mirror seemingly totally still, reflecting the light itself, not just the sun; sea and sky seemed to vibrated as one and the same light.
From the shoreline to the horizon there was only light, light from the sea and light from the sky met. It was awesome! There was no sound not even a seagull ...no people, just light and space. The beauty was divine. Plotinus and many philosophers (including the Indian scripture )have described God as Beauty, and have sung HER song! Surely this was as sacred and beautiful as any moment in the Himalayas and the Ganga, yet it was the sea of England. This is not blashemy; if you would have been there, you would agree!Space, Stillness, Silence and Light coming together as One, no features..just Light; surely that is That!there was only light one could not even distinguish the horizon where sea and sky met. It was awesome!
There was no sound not even a seagull screeching; no people, just light and space. The beauty was divine. Plotinus and many philosophers (including the Indian scripture) have described God as Beauty, and have sung HER song as Light of Lights.
This morning, at the coast of England one could directly understand this wisdom, Space, Stillness, Silence and Light coming together as One, no features & just Light.there was only light, light from the sea and light from the sky met. It was awesome! There was no sound not even a seagull ...no people, just light and space. The beauty was divine. Plotinus and many philosophers (including the Indian scripture )have described God as Beauty, and have sung HER song! Surely this was as sacred and beautiful as any moment in the Himalayas and the Ganga, yet it was the sea of England. This is not blashemy; if you would have been there, you would agree!Space, Stillness, Silence and Light coming together as One, no features..just Light; surely that is That!Bottom of Form
Great festivals such as the winter solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas all are simply celebrations of light (there is St. Lucia /Dec/ Sweden; St. Martin/ Nov/ Holland; Loi Krathing/ Nov/Thailand; Diwali in India etc.) In all of these and many more, we celebrate the light; and especially the turning point from the darkest night of the year to light.
The most ancient celebrations of this, in the Northern Hemisphere (from way back - long before Christianity) are those connected to the winter solstice; where the change of position between sun and earth is celebrated. From the turning-point the shortest day - the darkest, longest night can fall any time from 15th.December to 25 (according to the old roman calendar; in the southern hemisphere the winter solstice is in June.) From there the hours of sunlight per day increase.
This turning point from darkness to light, is significant in many cultures; not least was it the reason for celebrating Christ s birth (nobody knows when the child Jesus was really born), around the 24th of December. With it the Christ-light, the birth of the Deva/Theos /the Shining One , the illuminated Being, the en-lightend Being was celebrated.
At this point in time, the light conquers darkness & a manifestation of GU-RU; the light of wisdom, of knowing driving away the darkness of ignorance.
Light conquers darkness; yet it does so without doing! Where light shines, dark does not exist. This in itself is a great teaching; something is done without doing , but by being (the principal teaching of the Bhagavad Geeta).
Light conquers darkness, by its very existence; it simply shines and all gets done!
No wonder people always celebrate, nay worshipped light!
The Famous Stonehenge, one thinks, is built to honour the light; at the winter-solstice a shaft of light, hits the central rock. Such symbolism is also found in Newgrange in Ireland; in the Center of the Pyramids of Egypt and South America, and many lesser known places, such as the Vashishta Cave (just North of Rishikesh/Himalayas/India), where at a certain time a shaft of light hits the Shiva Linga in the cave!
People have chosen or build their sanctuaries, their sacred sights in all manner - so as to worship and honour light & why is that?
We can look at the literature to find a clue: It says in the Qumran: God is the light of heaven and earth! It says in the Tibetan Book of the Dead & the self-originating Clear Light, eternally unborn is shining forth within one s own mind &.
Simeon, the Christian Mystic is saying:
A light infinite and incomprehensible, timeless and eternal &is the source of life.
Christ said: I am the light of the world.
St.Augustine : He that knows the truth, knows what this light is &.
Emerson: time and space are but physiological colours the eye makes; the soul however is the light.
Now in Iran, in the 12th century there was a Sufi master called, the Master of Illumination . He taught: the essence of all things is Light! Light is the source of all existence, light that is blinding in its intensity. The whole universe exists of nothing but degrees of light!......
Surawardi had great influence, and in fact a whole school of thought followed. He spent most of his time in Silence, yet his teachings on the light &offended the ruler; he was imprisoned and died a mysterious death. (Just the same as the famous Al-Hallaj)
And then of course, there is the Indian tradition. The Vedas in their most ancient versions draw the parallel between God or the Absolute and &.. Light.
The Prashno Upannishad answer the question, of where we come from &quiet clearly: Light
In fact there is much evidence, that the worship of Light was the origin & of man s traditions of worship altogether; the ancients might have watched the light, rise &.fade &and &.renew itself and rise again & . This might well be the base of Vedic experience and many similar traditions!
The Astavakra Gita (said to predate most of the Upanishads &) links quiet explicitly consciousness, the Self and Light. And so the enlightened king there declares:
Light is my very nature; I am nothing other than that light. &
Shri Ramakrishna defined reality, by saying: It is Light without properties , thus making sure we do not confuse (physical) light as an object, perceived by our senses, with light absolute! That light which expresses as conciousness &.is neither subject nor object & as it is immutable! Unchanging!
This reference to God or consciousness as Light goes right through to the later scriptures such as the Chandogya Upanicad saying :
And that light is the self-luminous Brahman &; the light of light
Furthermore it says In the Mundaka Upanishad:
The Lord of love, know him without stain.
Know him as the radiant light of lights
He is the reflected light by all;
Swami Rama too linked Love, Light and Life as One!
Swami Veda has written a beautiful essay about us, as : Beings of light, as spheres of light.
There are millions of examples to give; including the Gayatri and its practices of rising early & to greet the Light! (which again is a practiced shared by many cultures, i.e. the indigenous mountain people of the Andes)
We could go as far as saying Light is the Beginning; source of all sources &, and indeed the old testament (Bible) in the first Chapter, Genesis: At the beginning was light .
Even the Zulus of Africa agree, nothingness became light
So at the beginning was light? Light then is source of existence.
Sri Aurobindu and others simply say: All existence is light! All &manifestation is nothing but a form, a manifestation of light!
Hm & all existence- that means from the first amoebas to the Gods.. the Shining Ones all is light!
From light came as its firstborn photo-synthesis from that evolved all life!
Meaning what? Meaning light - is the Mother of life-
Through evolution that light became the origin of mankind &
Through evolution light has created the human intellect, with which it can understand itself.
We now have a problem, if all forms, all life, mankind is an expression of light; light is the source the mother of all forms.. are we then fusing.. manifest light and the light that shines behind the light? This is very close to saying Shiva and Shakti are the same!
So what do we mean when we say all existence is nothing but a form of light?
If we consult modern science, we find that both Einstein and Max Plank started their investigation (which resulted in quantum physics and post quantum physics) by investigating light.
In time it was found that light is electromagnetic waves, which as itself is constant; it doesn t change, what does change is the energy - the frequency bundles carry. & but to that in a minute.
So, according to modern science, light is vibrating electromagnetic energy; and this energy is perceived by our eyes and computed by our brains as something we call light! So light is high powered energy that originated for us from the sun. Just think:
So even from a semi - scientific view point, we are - the earth is & slowed down light. (Sun and earth are the same; see D. Frawley/ Thich Nath Than et.all) All matter, as Sri Aurobindu said- is nothing but light &(including you and me!)
The whole universe is such slowed down vibration of energy. In a similar manner all planets came into existence from this light & which is no light! What? Light which is no light?
Let me just mention one interesting facet in this picture: light is electromagnetic waves; high frequency energy the vibrations, the waves radiating out can be perceived by us through the eyes as light- or through the ears as sound!
So light is the origin of everything & or sound is &.
Sound and Light is the same &
It depends on what your brain/mind selects; we see /hear this energy due to the quality of our perception; we could say: due to the instrumental limitations of our perception.
This we can explore further: light is constant yet we perceive changes. In fact to us it seems as though everything in the universe always changes; how come? The forms of the output of energy change not the light/energy itself. Physically speaking the output of the frequency bundles changes, - but light itself doesn t.
Variations in light- are to make it very simple , are due to our limited perception, to our mental interpretation of the energy-output! The lower frequencies of vibration we cannot perceive with the eye- hence we experience them as dark!
Means what? Means there is no day and night; it s just what our mind makes of the different vibrations of light &
Light is always there; there is no darkness, darkness is our ignorance!
Light drives away darkness &Gu-Ru &.literally and metaphorically; physical and mentally.
There is a beautiful story &
Darkness goes to the Lord and complains: Light always chases me, it persecutes me. I have nowhere to go; please Lord do something &
So the Lord calls Light:
Hey light, what are you doing to Darkness &
Light looks completely puzzled:
With due respect, oh Lord of All, what are you talking about, what is darkness? I see only light; wherever I am there is only light!
Stories, yes- but what about hard science?
What else is science that modern stories? That one day will be laughed at, because they are stories out of date ? So leaving ancient stories behind instead listen to modern stories (which we call science): Modern physics found that light is actually more fundamental to our universe than space and time.(physical light, which in the end merges with metaphysical light, the light of light, called: consciousness) .
So not surprising when we hear Sages like Sri Aurobindu proclaim: All matter is just a mass of stable light (and many such as Eddington/Libet/Searl in our time agree..)
One of these physicists: Peter Russel writes:
The light that strikes the eye is only known through the energy it releases; the mind translates that energy into a visual image.
The light is a quality of intelligence, ultimately of consciousness- stable
waves of light (energy) carry knowledge, carry intelligence. But not in the sense of knowledge within a person s mind &
What does it mean:
It means that we are waves of light; yet waves of different vibrations, carrying different waves of intelligence.
We are as SVB says: Beings of light, spheres of light! It cannot be otherwise!
If our source, if our essential being is light- then going back to the awareness of being light is going back to our original nature!
I remember when I was about 16, someone asked me what I wanted to achieve in life. I answered:
I want to walk up a ray of the sun, until I am no more!
HM; what a crazy answer &? Or is it?
Is it going back to the wisdom of the ancestors, sages, elders of all cultures and tradition that know that we are children of light?
If we are children of light, then light is our Mother !
Our Mother is Light!
SHE the Divine Creatrix - is Light!
And not just my mother, but all existence through time, in all forms - has been her child, her creation in permanent evolution; in fact birthing then, i.e. giving birth is what evolution is. Creativity (creating something new/giving birth) then is the core concept of HER existence & i.e. of Light evolving in ever changing forms into the universe and evolving back to the future &
Well it means evolution and devolution becomes the same &there is only ONE process! The process of light ever evolving, ever creating & yet never changing its essence always being light- throughout the process.
Now that to me sounds very much like Vedic teaching: there is Shiva and Shakti, stillness and movement- as One!
Now if all comes from light, and we are the children of light we need to learn from our Mother!
We need to learn from light.
If She, the Divine Mother is light ALL Existence is born from HER.
We have forgotten that we are light
We need to relearn to behave as light, as HER
We need to return to behaving as her children.
What does it mean? Behaving like children of light?
Light is stable in its wisdom, in its intelligence
Light does not judge or discriminate &it is stable
It gives life to everyone; it drives away darkness by its very own nature
It transcends and transforms all existence.
So how to live:
Shedding our human perceptions and conditionings like so many veils that hide the light!
Become more giving
More loving, more healing,
More transforming, more transcending
As we grow more into our original nature of being light we grow more into these qualities. In fact we become beings of Light and Love, because they are identical (as we heard Swami Rama say).
Swami Rama told us how to practice this: Love, Serve and remember!
Swami Veda Bharati holds the prestigious title of Mahamandaleshwara in the Swami order of monks. He is also the Chancellor of HIHT University, Dehradun, which was established by Master Swami Rama. He has authored approximately 18 books on Indian spirituality including a 1500 page comprehensive commentary on two of the four chapters of Patanjali’s Yoga-sutras. Before taking the vows of Swamihood in 1992, Swami Veda Bharati was known as Dr. Usharbudh Arya.
A friend has written me asking the following question:
In the Patanjali sutras, he gives us the yama of ahimsa. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that he must fight and slaughter a lot of soldiers. While Krishna tells him that the atman cannot be harmed since it's eternal, immutable, etc., Arjuna still must harm a whole lot of people in battle. How do I reconcile these two things? If Patanjali is saying that we shouldn't harm anybody's atman, that doesn't really make sense since it cannot be harmed. So he must be talking about the body. If he's talking about the body this seems a direct contradiction to what Krishna is telling Arjuna. I've been struggling with this for awhile and can not make the two things come together.
Here is a brief reply.
Please see some of the verses of the Gita that extol ahimsa, for example verse 5 of chapter 10 :
Ahimsaa samataa tuShTih...
Here, ahimsa is one of seven 'states to be' (bhaava) that arise from the Lord.
Then, the verse 2 of chapter 16:
Ahimsaa satyam a-krodhah...
Here ahimsa is one of the 26 aspects of divine wealth (daivee sampad) to which are born those who are endowed with such wealth. The complete list of 26 is in verses 1-3.
The question arises : is Bhagavad-gita (BhG) then contradicting itself. On one hand, the text extols ahimsa, and on the other hand, it enjoins Arjuna to indulge in the battle. Here, let us take other conditions placed on Arjuna by the Lord. We shall take only two verses, to avoid writing a whole book analyzing the philosophy of BhG.
Sukha-duhkhe same kRtvaa laabhaalaabhau jayaajayau
Tato yuddhaaya yijyasva naivam paapam avaapsyasi
Holding pleasure and pain as the same, similarly loss and gain, as well as victory and defeat --- then engage in the battle. Thus shall you not accrue sin.
Mayi sarvaaNi karmaaNi sanyasyaadhyaatma-chetasaa
Nir-aasheeer nir-mamo bhootvaa yudhyasva vigata-jvarah
Surrendering all your acts unto Me, with a mind dwelling in atman the self, free of expectations, free of a concept of 'meum' (mine), having freed yourself of all feverishness, then fight.
In Sanskrit the injunction is very direct. yudhyasva vigata-javarah: fight ! having voided fevers. Thus the pre-conditions for engaging in battle are that Arjuna
This is no common war that the world engages in today. Imagine the spiritual training required for preparing to engage in such a war. For this, one needs to look at the whole of Mahabharata to know what training and sadhana Arjuna went through during his entire life.
Even His Holiness Dalai Lama, the great contemporary proponent of non-anger, has stated that sometimes force becomes necessary to combat evil.
But, as per BhG there are spiritual pre-requisites for engaging in the use of such force.
Here I give a story I have repeated numerous times in my lectures on the subject. It comes from the Sufi tradition.
A Sufi soldier was in the middle of a battle. It came to hand-to-hand combat. He was fighting the enemy skillfully with his dagger. Soon he had the enemy down on the ground and sat astride his chest, raising his hand to drive the dagger down.
The enemy in his helpless anger spat on the Sufi soldier's face.
The Sufi soldier's hand hung in mid-stride and did not strike.
"What are you waiting for?"--said the fallen enemy. "I am totally under your power. Go ahead, kill me!"
The Sufi soldier replied : I cannot. I was doing my duty and you were doing your duty. I do not know you and you do not know me. Now you have introduced a personal note by spitting on me in anger and I have become angry. Now killing you will not be an act of duty but it will be murder.
In simple terms, Arjuna is being told to kill but not to commit murder.
What Arjuna is taught is the essence of all oriental martial arts where one is trained to hit the opponent but inside oneself remain in the centre of stillness. That is ahimsa in the battle field. This is the resolution of the 'koan' of Gita's non-violence.
Gahanaa karmaNo gatih: ways of action are very deep.