This course is about blending Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra. In this course Yoga refers to its traditional meaning as a path of meditation and contemplation leading to Self-realization. Your guide in the course is Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati (Swami J for short), along with Swami Ma Tripurashakti Bharati (Ma Tri) who has done the creative design of the course. Most of the course is video lectures, complemented by several extensive PDF files. Whether you are a student of Yoga or a Teacher, or both, this course will lead you to a greater depth in your personal practices, as well as a more refined skill in teaching or sharing with others. The course is designed in four major sections: One each for Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra, and then a section on integrating the three. The course is designed so that you can comfortably move through the lessons at whatever pace you wish, completing the lectures in as little as 4-5 hours. However, we encourage you to go back through all of the lectures and articles, whether starting over from the beginning and going to the end, or just surfing around the lectures in you repeat views. There is a great deal of practical information here on practices of meditation and contemplation, and while the explanations are in reasonably simple language, you will probably uncover the depth by repeated reviews. The people we have had in mind in creating this course are those who already have some exposure to one or more of the three of Yoga, Vedanta, or Tantra, and would like to expand your practices in a traditional way. Welcome. Enjoy the course….
Introduction to the Blending Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra course.
Welcome to the course. Please enjoy...
Swami J and Ma Tri
This lecture introduces how Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra complement one another. These three have been subdivided over history, somewhat like a library puts slightly different (though essentially the same and interactive) topics on different shelves. Here we are 'blending' Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra so as to get a clear understanding of the original one source of these, allowing an integrated practice of meditation and contemplation, of one uniform spiritual process. We are blending what has never actually been divided in the first place.
There are over ten PDF articles in the course. When you see these you may either go through them in detail before moving on with the course, or you may skip them so as to watch the videos, and then come back for a more detailed look. Either way is okay. Please follow your own inclination and enjoy the course. There's a lot here, and it ought to be a pleasant experience.
This lecture is a basic overview of the three streams of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra as follows: Yoga (as expounded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) is about stabilizing and clearing the clouded mind, first by meditation on attitudes of lovingness, compassion, supportiveness, and acceptance. Vedanta is about exploring in contemplative meditation the three levels: waking, dreaming, deep sleep; conscious, unconscious, subconscious; gross, subtle, causal, and then about directly contemplating on the center of consciousness, seeking to experientially go into the heart of the question, 'Who am I?' Tantra is about balancing the internal energies of the chakras and the flows on the two sides of the body, ida and pingala, sun and moon, ha and tha of hatha yoga, and then about opening the central stream of energy, sushumna, the subtle counterpart of the physical spine. Allowing the latent energy to awaken, flowing upward in this channel, so as to reach the point from which it originally emerged.
This one-page article is a brief written overview of the three streams of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra as follows: Yoga (as expounded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) is about stabilizing and clearing the clouded mind, first by meditation on attitudes of lovingness, compassion, supportiveness, and acceptance. Vedanta is about exploring in contemplative meditation the three levels: waking, dreaming, deep sleep; conscious, unconscious, subconscious; gross, subtle, causal, and then about directly contemplating on the center of consciousness, seeking to experientially go into the heart of the question, 'Who am I?' Tantra is about balancing the internal energies of the chakras and the flows on the two sides of the body, ida and pingala, sun and moon, ha and tha of hatha yoga, and then about opening the central stream of energy, sushumna, the subtle counterpart of the physical spine. Allowing the latent energy to awaken, flowing upward in this channel, so as to reach the point from which it originally emerged.
Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra can be viewed like a pyramid with Yoga on the base, Vedanta on top of that, and Tantra on the top.
'Gu' means 'darkness' and 'ru' means 'light.' Guru is the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance. Guru is a stream of knowledge. Guru is not a person, although that energy of consciousness can operate through a person. The potency of guru is everywhere similar to the way in which gravity is everywhere, always there to pull you back into its source. Shaktipata is the 'bestowing of shakti,' sometimes known a 'bestowing of grace.' It's not the person who is important, but the process itself.
The process and practice of Yoga is highly systematic. Yoga deals systematically with the levels of Body, Breath, Mind, and Beyond. Yoga is the process of setting aside the kleshas, the colorings of attraction, aversion, fear, and false identities. Then the 'seer,' the True Self rests in its true nature. The critical skill of Yoga is attention, simply to observe. Yoga starts wherever you are in your current daily life.
What is Yoga? This is a traditional view on Yoga by Swami Rama
Traditional Hatha Yoga is intended to lead to Raja Yoga, the "Royal Yoga", the goal of which is the highest state of consciousness known as Samadhi.
Sankhya is the philosophical foundation of the practices outlined in the Yoga Sutras. A general understanding of Sankhya is extremely useful, if not essential to the practice of Yoga.
This file is an outline and commentary on the first five sutras of the Yoga Sutras. Understanding these introductory sutras gives a superb insight into the whole of the Yoga Sutras. One way of viewing this is that all of the other sutras are simply expansions of the solid ground in these five sutras.
The colorings, kleshas, of Yoga are Avidya (ignorance or forgetting of True Nature), Asmita (I-ness), Raga (attraction), Dveshya (aversion), and Abhinivesha (fear of loss of identity). This is like a metaphorical wave forgetting that it is one with the ocean, while actually being one with the ocean all along.
The key factor of Yoga practice is cultivating razor sharp attention to discern between not-self and True-Self. Otherwise, we fall asleep into our identities, turning verbs into nouns, turning actions into identities. Yoga is the process of awakening from all of these false identities.
The Yoga Sutras outlines 'how' to do the practices of self-awareness and discernment that we call Yoga. You have to do these practices for a long time, and have a proper, good, healthy attitude, the willingness to explore within, and no breaks, no vacation: Long time, good attitude, no vacation.
An important habit of attention to regulate is how inner attention moves in a 'field' that is predominantly left and right, and a little bit of up and down. The task here is to train attention to rest comfortably in one 'space' such as the heart center or the space between the eyebrows, not allowing the attention to wander either left and right, or up and down. Then other thoughts drifting through that field of mind will not be distracting or disturbing. This is not 'blocking' or 'getting rid of' those thoughts, pictures, or words, but simply maintaining a very gentle concentration of attention on that one little area or point. This leads one to a state of non-attachment, or vairagya.
Here is a simple, gentle experiment of training attention in an inner space. Just stay there with attention; no fight, no battle. You're not using 'words' here; it's gradually learning the skill that right now I don't have to move my body, and I don't have to talk. I don't have to force my mind. A few seconds of this experience can make the principle clear. In some sense 'I' am doing 'nothing' at the moment. Critical thinking skills are very useful, but we want to be able to decide when to turn it on, and when to turn it off.
Sushumna is the subtle energy in the subtle spine. This lecture introduces the basic concept of dealing with this subtle energy through energy and breath awareness in this subtle spine. The principles and practices with sushumna are an important part of blending Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra.
This lecture talks about the interplay of the practices related to Viveka (discrimination or discernment), Vairagya (non-attachment), Ekagra (one-pointedness of attention), and Nirodhah (setting aside or letting go of attractions, aversions, and false identities). The interplay of these principles and practices brings excellent progress in the joy of meditation.
This is a brief description of Viveka (Discrimination or Discernment) from the Yoga Sutras. Discriminative knowledge is the key to the entire science of Yoga. This discernment is also central to Vedanta and Tantra.
Viveka, or discernment, is at the very heart of Yoga as expounded in the Yoga Sutras. The last principle in the Yoga Sutras, in the last three words of the last sutra, is the word 'shakti,' and shakti is also a central principle in Tantra.
Witnessing and coordinating the Four Functions of Mind is a most useful aspect of sadhana, practices, leading to a great depth of direct experience in contemplation. These Four Functions of Mind are: 1) Manas, the sensory-motor aspect, 2) Chitta, the storage or memory bank, 3) Ahamkara, the ego or "I-maker,' and 4) Buddhi, the intelligence aspect which knows, decides, judges, and discriminates or discerns. We want to cultivate the skill of witnessing each of these individually, and as they function together.
Discriminating between the four functions: This is one of the most profound self-awareness practices of the ancient Himalayan sages. This Yoga practice is just as profoundly useful today as it was thousands of years ago. The process is one of self-observation, and gradually discriminating between these four aspects of the inner instrument, so as to attain the direct experience of the Center of Consciousness from which all of our thoughts, emotions, and experiences arise on various degrees and grades.
This lecture also has a related PDF file. Please click on Resources to review it.
Reality expresses or manifests itself in:
• Four Levels of Consciousness (rows 1, 2, 3, 4), and
• Three Domains of Consciousness (columns A, B, C):
Practical principles: These are practical principles used daily in Contemplation and Yoga Meditation, not merely abstract principles. For a dedicated seeker of Self-Realization who wishes to tread the Advanced path of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra, these principles and associated practices of self-exploration and self-awareness are crucial.
Contemplation uses language, whereas meditation sets aside language. The two practices are different, but are companions on the inner journey. Or, in the spirit of blending Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra, we can say that meditation and contemplation are simply different aspects of the same one practice. Contemplation brings a great deal of insight making the mind happy.
We start at the gross level, move to a subtler, then to a still subtler level, and finally move to the Center of Consciousness. Here, we are using our reflective, intelligent mind for contemplation. In contemplation the narrative of mind is used as a tool, while in meditation that aspect of mind is set aside. Both approaches—meditation and contemplation—are used in the inner journey.
When doing contemplation we may do this one thing at a time: body, breath, personality, etc. 'Who am I? Am I my body? Am I my personality?' Gradually, however this contemplation expands to seeing the totality, wherein the realization is that 'I' am that one, nondual, universal essence.
Advaita is non dualism. Dualism says that two things are going. Non dualism says there is only one, but there is the appearance of two. It is extremely difficult to talk about one, so at some point the sages came to say that while we almost cannot talk about one, what we can say is that there is not two. Hence comes the concept of non dualism, advaita.
Clay is an ancient metaphor of advaita, non dualism or monism. You can have many pots, but they are all made of one underlying substance, clay. In a sense all there is is clay that keeps changing form into this or that pot. Similarly is the metaphor of gold, which can be shaped into many bracelets. The whole of our dualistic world operates in that way, both in terms of matter and consciousness. Although a simple concept on the surface, the depth of this understanding comes with lots of contemplation over a long period of time.
There are three general stages of contemplation in Vedanta: 1) Sravana, 2) Manana, 3) and Nidhidhyasana. Savanna means listening or 'taking in' the concepts for contemplation. Manana means chewing on it with internal dialogue. Nididhyasana is letting go of the narrative into wordless awareness, wherein the meaning is gradually known in direct intuitive experience; this is in silence.
Mahavakyas are the great contemplations of Vedanta. 'Maha' means 'great' and 'vakyas' are utterances. Seven traditional mahavakyas are presented here.
The Mahavakyas are the Great Sentences of contemplation. The Mahavakyas are the essence of Advaita Vedanta and Jnana Yoga, and are contained in the Upanishads. Maha is Great, and Vakyas are sentences, or utterances for contemplation. They provide perspective and insights that tie the texts together in a cohesive whole. The contemplations on the Mahavakyas also blend well with the practices of meditation, prayer, and mantra, which are companion practices in Yoga. The pinnacle of the wisdom and practices of the ancient sages is contained in the terse twelve verses of the Mandukya Upanishad, which outlines the philosophy and practices of the OM mantra.
Seven Mahavakyas are described in the first article. By focusing on these seven Mahavakyas, the rest of the principles of self-exploration described in Vedanta and the Upanishads are more easily accessible. Included with the descriptions are suggestions on what to do with these seven Mahavakyas.
The second file is a narrative on contemplation and the mahavakyas from his writings on the Mandukya Upanishad, which is about the levels of consciousness mapped out in the Om mantra.
The Tantric way of accounting for the appearance of multiplicity is through the two principles of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is the universal ground of pure potential. Shakti is the manifesting impetus that allows the appearance of diversity in the unity.
In the metaphor of the many parts of a computer, I am the electricity, not the hard drive, the programs, the microchip, or the monitor or keyboard. I am pure consciousness, Shakti, operating outward through levels of manifestation of the physical world.
There is one energy that keeps taking on new shapes and forms. In Tantra the name of that energy is Shakti, which is the manifesting, or feminine force that is actually one and the same with its only apparent companion Shiva, the latent, or masculine. Each time the energy takes on a new form, we give it a new name. Like a flowing river, a power generator, the electricity produced, and light and other objects using the electricity, there is only one energy used, and that is the power of the river. Similarly, that consciousness of Shakti manifests outward as all of the levels of our own being. In Tantra, we seek to follow the manifestations back to their original source where Shakti and Shiva are one and the same.
Shiva and Shakti are inseparable and coexist, like ink and the written word, which, though one and the same, are different. With one pen of ink, many different words or images can be manifested, although there remains only one container (pen) of ink. It is that creative process of manifestation that makes the ink appear to have different forms and meaning from one word to the next. When you write different words, or draw both a circle and a square, you have not created a single ink molecule, but have only rearranged the existing molecules, creating the appearance of different words or forms. It remains exactly what it was in the first place, which is ink.
In Tantra we are trying to follow Shakti back to the Source it came from. Sometimes Shakti is called 'her' or 'Divine Mother.' This is symbolic, and does not mean that there is an anthropomorphic deity who is a woman, although there is some beautiful art which has been created as symbols. Shakti is the manifesting force, hence, like creatures in nature, is conceptualized as feminine. Shiva, not being the manifesting power, is conceptualized therefore as masculine.
Tantra considers the universe to be a manifestation of pure consciousness. Through this process of manifesting, consciousness divides itself into two parts, which cannot exist without one another (though appearing to divide, they actually remain one and the same). One aspect remains as a static, formless quality (shiva), while the other is a dynamic, creative aspect (shakti). The two eternally coexist, like ink and the written word, which, though one and the same, are different. There are three 'schools' of Tantra, and those are discussed here in this lecture.
Here is a 9-page article on the three schools of Tantra: Kaula, Mishra, and Samaya.
When sushumna is awakened, energy is balanced; then the kundalini energy is prepared to awaken; then that kundalini is ready to arise; and then that kundalini can rejoin the shiva at the crown of the head, while the two were never really separate.
There is one very simple way to see that the subtle, inner energy is balanced, and that is the breath in the two nostrils flowing freely and evenly. This is called sushumna awakening, where that subtle stream of consciousness, shakti, or prana is flowing freely in the subtle spine.
Tripura is the one who dwells in the three cities. 'Tri' is 'three' and 'pura' means 'city.' Tripura is the one consciousness that dwells in, and is the source of the three states of Waking, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep. These three are also called Gross, Subtle, and Causal levels of manifestation. In Sanskrit these three levels are called Vaishvanara, Taijasa, Prajnana among other terms. In meditation on Tripura, one finds and meditates on that one who dwells in the three cities.
Afterthoughts: Integrating Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra
This last section is called Afterthoughts, and this section includes other lectures we think may complement what you have already done, and which will be both interesting and helpful to your sadhana (practices).
When you drink a cup of tea, heat, wetness, and flavor come together in one experience. Similarly, Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra come together in one experience.
Each of the three of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra have as a goal the transcending of time, space, and causation, leading to the same point beyond which is the direct experience of the absolute, nondual reality. That point is called 'Bindu,' which has been conceptualized or symbolized as a pearl or a mustard seed.
Bindu means Point or Dot, is sometimes likened to a Pearl, and is often related to the principle of a Seed. This is not just a poetic choice of words or philosophy. There literally is a stage of meditation and contemplation in Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra in which all experiences collapse, so to speak, into a point from which all experiences arose in the first place. The Bindu is near the end of the subtlest aspect of mind itself, after which one travels beyond or transcends the mind and its contents. It is near the end of time, space, and causation, and is the doorway to the Absolute. To understand this principle is extremely useful, if not essential to Advanced Meditation.
Bindu: Pinnacle of the Three Streams of Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra
Piercing the Pearl of Non-Dual Wisdom
by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
Beyond the piercing of the Bindu is the direct experience of the one, absolute, nondual reality, and this has been described as indescribable. The closest that can be said is that this experience of oneness is somewhat like existence, consciousness, and bliss, or sat, chit, ananda (or satchitananda).
All of the paths have emerged from the same one Source, and all paths ultimately lead back to that one common Source. It is nameless, but we refer to it with names like Brahman, Shiva, God, Truth, or Reality. Nothing is excluded from this Oneness.
When help is needed, help will come. This is the principle of guru. Guru is a universal process which, although it can manifest through a person, is not itself a person. Guru is that force field of consciousness that will pull one the rest of the way on the journey to the highest realization of the one, nondual reality. One has an impetus to move outward as a person, and there is also a natural energy trying to pull us in, to home, where we came from, and that energy is called guru.
The word guru is a compound of two words, gu and ru. Gu means darkness and ru means light. That which dispels the darkness of ignorance is called guru. The energy and action of removing darkness are guru. Guru is not a person, it is a force driven by grace. To put this another way, there is an intelligent momentum that pervades the universe that is moving all human beings toward the perfection is sometimes called God. Guru is that intelligence.
Kundalini is innate for all people: At the base of the spine, subtler than the physical body, lies the Kundalini energy, or spiritual energy, in a latent form. Regardless of what religious, spiritual, or meditation tradition one follows, the awakening of this energy, by whatever name you call it, is a most innate and essential part of spiritual advancement, unfoldment, or realization.
All Yoga is Kundalini Yoga: While some people use a specific terminology "Kundalini Yoga" for certain practices, all of Yoga actually leads to the activation of Kundalini. Thus, in a sense, all of Yoga is Kundalini Yoga, regardless of whether you use that specific name. Awakening kundalini and leading it to union with the Absolute is the goal of the Himalayan sages and the path of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra.
The OM Mantra is a roadmap for sadhana, spiritual practices (written as either AUM or OM). It is not for the person who seeks only the shallow waters of spiritual life, but rather for those who strive to realize in direct experience the depth of the Absolute Reality. There are four main levels of consciousness outlined in the OM Mantra, including three which are commonly experienced as waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, along with the fourth, which is pure consciousness. Each of these is experienced on the inner journey of meditation and contemplation.
Our wish for the very nice people we meet...
These quiz questions are based on the Kundalini Awakening article. These are meant to be very easy and to serve as reminders, not literally to 'test' your memory.
Abhyasa Ashram is a monastery and yoga meditation center which practices universal meditation as taught by the ancient tradition of yogis of the cave monasteries of the Himalayas, especially as transmitted through the lineage of Swami Rama. The tradition has no name, and is not affiliated with any of the institutions or religions of the plains of India or other countries surrounding the Himalayas, although individual meditators may personally align themselves with a wide variety of religions or institutions. We may refer to the tradition as "the tradition of the Himalayan masters" or "the Himalayan tradition", but that is for the sake of convenience, and is not a style or brand name as is popular these days.
Our methods of meditation and contemplation involve systematic awareness of all levels of our being, including actions/senses, body, breath, mind, finally resting in the awareness of the Self (atman) which is one with the universal Self (brahman). At Abhyasa Ashram we have aspirant training, not teacher training. Our approach to training is mostly individual or group coaching, as Yoga meditation and contemplation has been traditionally taught for thousands of years. Aspirants with various degrees of experience naturally teach others within the context of their own lives and modes of service.
From the perspective of our meditation tradition, each person is perfect, pure consciousness (atman, purusha, shakti) at the core of her or his being. The entire process of yoga sadhana (meditation and contemplation practices) is to reduce the colorings of attractions, aversions, and fears that usually veil that realization (often called Self-realization). This is done by systematically receding inward through senses, body, breath, conscious and unconscious mind. The final barrier is removed through a transmission of grace, which is known as shaktipata, the bestowing of the pure consciousness of shakti. It is also known as guru kripa, grace of guru. In our tradition guru is a force field of consciousness, and is not any person, although that grace of guru can flow through a person.
At Abhyasa Ashram the word "Yoga" is used in its traditional meaning, rather than the revisionist meaning of Yoga as merely a gymnastic or physical fitness program. Yoga means “union" of the individual consciousness and universal consciousness, Atman and Brahman, Jivatman and Paramatman, as well as Shiva and Shakti. It is pure consciousness (Purusha) standing alone from primal manifestation (Prakriti).
Yoga is traditionally taught, practiced and learned through close relationships in a community of noble friends, known as kalyana-mitra. Guru is a stream of knowledge of direct experience which, though it may operate through a person, is itself not a person. While some participants in ashram activities have a theistic (god) orientation and others a non-theistic orientation, we virtually all intuit that there is only one, nondual (advaita), absolute reality even though it may appear to be dualistic.
Our purpose is to share with people who have an interest in the principles and practices of the Himalayan masters, including traditional Yoga Meditation, Vedanta, and internal, meditative Tantra. Our community of meditation and contemplation is devoted to serving those who deeply long for the direct experience of union with the eternal, pure center of consciousness, the bliss of being that is one with the absolute reality, as the wave who seeks to remember it is one with the ocean. One word for that union is "Yoga."
The word "Abhyasa" means "practices." Abhyasa is purposefully choosing to do that which leads to "sthitau," which is a stable, steady, undisturbed inner calmness or tranquility. Abhyasa is one of the twin foundations of Yoga, along with Vairagya, the mental stance of non-attachment (Yoga Sutras 1.12-1.16). The root of the word Ashram is "shrama," which means "effort" or "striving." The hermitage, home, or training center of a swami or other person serving people in their efforts towards inner peace and awakening of consciousness is often called an Ashram. Thus, our community of meditation, contemplation and learning is known as Abhyasa Ashram. More than any physical location, it is really a place of the heart, an inner sanctuary of silence.
In loving Service,
Swami Jnaneshvara (Swamiji, Swami J)
Swami Ma Tripurashakti (Ma Tri, Ma)
Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati was born in 1948 in Ohio, USA, spent most of his youth in Florida, and later lived in several other states, including California, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Texas. His education includes a BS in Management from Florida State University and an MA in Consciousness, with emphasis in Transpersonal Psychology from John F. Kennedy University, in California. He previously worked in advertising, retail store management, counseling and psychiatric social work. He was never married and has no children.
Spontaneously practicing meditation and other yogic practices from early childhood, Swami Jnaneshvara has been a student of the Himalayan Tradition of yoga meditation since 1986 when initiated in meditation by Swami Rama (10 years to the day prior to Swami Rama leaving the body). Several months later he met Pandit Usharbudh Arya, through whom supplemental training was given from time to time during the next few years. Swami Jnaneshvara was given novice monastic initiation in 1990, was ordained as a monk (swami) of the Himalayan tradition and the order of Shankaracharya in 1993 by Swami Rama, and was given one of the highest yogic initiations of direct experience in 1996, with final teachings and instructions being imparted shortly before Swami Rama left the body in November, 1996.
In 1998 and 1999 Swami Jnaneshvara received training, practices and grace from the venerated sage Naga Swami Hanuman Giri at the cave hermitages in the high Himalayas beyond Badrinath and Mana (He left the body in 2002). In 1999, initiation as Dandi Swami (a most honorific swami initiation in the Shankara tradition, in which a Danda, or staff is bestowed) was given at the bank of the Ganges in Haridwar, India by a highly revered Acharya (teacher) of Dandi Swamis, Acharya Dandi Swami Indradev Ashram. In 2000, the sage Vratti Baba of Kalimath, Himalayas passed on his initiatory transmissions at the time of his dropping the body (Vratti Baba was a long time friend and spiritual brother of Swami Rama). Swami Jnaneshvara has also been invited to be initiated as Mahamandaleshwar, said to be one of the highest leadership posts within the swami orders. The invitation has been respectfully declined so as to remain focused on the service work at hand.
From 1996-2012 Swami Jnaneshvara fascilitated month-long retreats at Swami Rama's Rishikesh, India ashram. Currently he resides at his Abhyasa Ashram in Florida USA, with far less travel than previous years. He has a significant presence in spreading traditional Yoga practices through internet, while serving a small number of visitors to the ashram.
Many share a similar story, is it not new, nothing special, but probably recognizable… There is a hunger, a longing, experiences in early childhood. An itch that won't leave you alone. A intuition that leads you on your way to freedom that keeps bringing you closer to your ineffable goal if you just keep following it… Not always easy, but with every step you know you have to take it. These were my steps…
Within a week after meeting Dandi Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati (March 2009) I knew that I had finally found the one person that understood what I was longing for my whole life, and who was able to guide me to realize my longing. A whole life searching had brought me to this moment, it was an incredible moment to realize someone understood me completely and could help me. I had met Swami Jnaneshvara in Rishikesh – India, in his three week intensive meditation retreat at Sadhana Mandir Ashram (founded by Swami Rama; Swami Jnaneshvara's teacher). The result was that after that week I told him I was going the leave everything behind to knock on his door in Florida as soon as possible. Within 6 weeks after returning from India I was on a plane to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, US to knock on the door of Abhyasa Ashram, founded by Swami Jnaneshvara.
Since early childhood I intuitively felt the presence of something beyond this manifested world; non-duality. Growing up in a world that didn't seem to acknowledge this, I hid the longing to understand this feeling in my heart, just waiting for the right time to be expressed and pursued. My inner journey started approximately at 17, with Art school (although it actually starting when I was a few years old; like many of us we cannot really pinpoint the exact moment as it has been always a part of life). Here the foundation was laid of many principles, later to be understood yogic and tantric principles. But this did not satisfy my longing, so I kept looking.
One of my most precious memory of that time was when I was 19 years old. I was sitting with friends. We were sharing with each other what we would say if we had a few minutes in which the whole world was listening. What would be our statement, passion, truth? That night I wrote myself a letter that I would give myself 7 years to find this out, as I did not know how to formulate my passion, my longing, as it was a intuition without words. It was in the same month 7 years later that I met Swami Jnaneshvara. I knew what I found most important in life; Self-realization, to be free! Free of all attachment that bind you to the temporary, so that I can play in the temporary while being constantly aware of the Eternal, the True Self, Pure Consciousness, Tripura! I still have this letter as a reminder that guidance is present even when we don't consciously experience it.
At 21 I “officially" encountered Meditation (Yoga) for the first time. Along the journey it became clear that throughout my life I had many meditative experiences but did not know at the time what they were. Which is nothing special as I have met several people with stories like this, which is wonderful! I knew at this time that I had found a better way to deepen the understanding of the longing that lived in my heart. After first learning and teaching the merely preliminary steps of Yoga, I got to know a teacher that introduced me to the non-dual teaching of Vedanta; the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita at the age of 23. This teacher was not able to provide me a way of living I longed for (without yet knowing it existed). Full of reverence and gratitude I still love this teacher, as the teachings were pure and formed a foundation from which I later could receive the teachings of Swamiji. Somehow at that time the mind did not yet know of the existence of the path of renunciation, of swamis. The mind was waiting for this introduction (to the phenomenon of renunciation) until I met Swamiji, which took another year. After meeting Swamiji everything became clear, and with joy I understood that the path of renunciation was the path I was longing for all those years…
On March 15 2009 I was initiated as a novice swami, and on November 13 2012 I took sannsaya at the banks of the Ganges, this diksha was given by Swami Jnaneshvara… from now I carry the name Swami Ma Tripurashakti Bharati (Ma Tri, pronounced as “Ma Tree“) Now, I travel around the world between different places that are all one Home, to practice, serve, and share the teaching I received from Swami Jnaneshvara, the teaching of the Himalayan Tradition that are given to us by Swami Rama, that embrace the teachings of Yoga, Vedanta and Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra.