A Place where devotees gather to share inspiration.
"Holy Mother" painted by Swami Tadatmananda
Used courtesy of the Vedanta Society of Southern California
I do not know if any copyright laws are being broken, but a long time devotee has emailed the following article by Swami Shraddhananda, originally published in Vedanta for East and West, 1977, in honor of Guru Purnina. She asks that it be shared.
Swami Shraddhananda was the Minister/Guru of the Vedanta Society of Sacramento until leaving the body. (He was also the first swami I met. He gave a talk at Fresno State University when I was a student there. Many of my friends were his disciples. While I was destined to have another guru, the swami was very dear to me.)
Greetings! Just found this charming, short article and thought to send it out and share it on this Holy Day of Guru Purnima when we revere our line of teachers back to Veda Vyasa. So many wonderful memories come to us this way. In October, Vedanta.org will have more meditations like this to download in the form of Class Notes on Ashtavakra Samhita by Swami Shraddhananda.
--------------Jai Gurudev- Lali [ps please forward to anyone you know]
Contemplation on OM by Swami Shraddhananda
OM. No longer will the horn of a car disturb him as the noise of a car; it will be OM. Even the tremendous noise of a jet plane can be merged into OM. Whatever idea tries to raise its head, it will at once disappear into OM. All experience, all objective contents of the mind will become OM. The mind will be perfectly calm. There will be only OM, the anahata (unstruck) primal spiritual vibration. Finally that vibration also will merge into the indescribable silence of the Self. By the repetition of OM, the pure consciousness that is latent in every part of our body and mind can be brought out as a tangible experience. Our True Self is the other name for Brahman, the Supreme Reality.
During japa (repetition) you have to think that this holy sound OM is going to every fibre, every cell of the body; it is striking every nerve, every muscle, every organ, every breath. Direct OM to every thought and every emotion and those thoughts and emotions will become purified. The meditator has to think that this great mantra, OM, is that spiritual power which is transforming every part of his body and mind. All thoughts have to become divine thoughts. All experience has to be transformed into divine experience. Such is the effect of this meditation. Eventually the Self, which is hidden, will raise It's head, and that is the Fire of Knowledge.
Another meditation on OM is found in the Mundaka Upanishad. Here the imagery concerns shooting at a target with a bow and arrow. OM is the bow, and your mind is the arrow. Just as we place the arrow on the bow, draw back the string and aim at the target, so we place our mind in OM and point it (our mind) to the target, Brahman. The meditation is the act of shooting. The mind has to be fixed in the repetition of OM. As a result of this, great one-pointedness comes. This one-pointed mind reflects on Brahman as pure consciousness and eventually becomes unified with that pure consciousness, which is revealed as the meditator's True Self.
In ancient India there were many different usages in practical life too of OM. The idea was to give a spiritual setting to all actions. Some examples are found in the Taittiriya Upanishad (1, viii). One has to feel that every action is meant for the divine, every action is spiritual. If one is eating, one should say, "OM, let me eat." Before reading, one can say, "OM, let me begin the study." If in our secular activities we apply OM it serves to purify our mind and gives us the association of holiness. Sometimes OM was used in the sense of approval. OM means "I have understood." The Mandukya Upanishad divides the sound of OM into four matras or constituents -- A, U, M, and Amatra or the silent part. The first three represent the three state of waking, dream and deep sleep, respectively. The Amatra stands for the Seer of the three states, namely the Self. The Seer can never be designated by a word. Words relate to objective reality. The Amatra indicates the eternal subject. The Taittiriya Upanishad reads (I. viii): "When a Vedic teacher wishes to obtain Brahman he utters OM; thus desiring Brahman, he verily obtains Brahman." The Upanishad reminds the student that OM is Brahman, the highest reality, and OM is all this. It is a question of experience. This experience does not come all at once. First, this solid external reality has to be seen as ideas, then all ideas have to be seen as words. Later, all words have to be converged in OM. When one has this experience he can see that everything is coming from the ultimate sound, OM.
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