The Fast

The ‘SELF-HELP’ CLEAN-ME-OUT program 3-7days, or more! 

This program is for those who have done the ‘first time’ clean-me-out program for 7 days WITH US before. YOU ARE EXPECTED TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

  • Intestinal cleansers & herbal nutrition tablets taken 5 times per day
  • 5 specially prepared Detox drinks daily
  • 1 flora grow capsule daily
  • Twice daily colon cleansing using our “colema board” enema system
  • US $30/day.

(Extras…colema tip 200bht, flora grow implant enema 400bht, detox drinks 75bht, herbal tablets 10bht each, flora grow capsules 22bht each, colemas 200bht per bucket, colema room usage 50bht or 100bht, cayenne capsules 5bht each, broth soup 40bht, liver flush drink 75bht, Thai herbal steam bath 200bht, or Membership card 7 steams-800bht)

Recommended for pre-cleanse……
(*We advise everyone to do a Liver Flush Fast prior to any fasting or cleansing program.)

The Pre-cleanse instruction:

We do advise you prepare yourself before a fast by doing a Pre-cleanse. This involves eating mostly raw foods (salads & fruits), lots of vegetables & drinking plenty of water. Plus drinking Liver Flush Drinks ever day.

The Liver Flush recipe:

Into a blender add…extra virgin olive oil- 2 tablespoons or up to a third of a cup, with fresh lemon juice-about 1 third cup, garlic 3-5cloves, ginger 1-knob, cayenne pepper half gram & top up with freshly squeezed orange juice.

Avoid heavy proteins, white breads, cakes, sugar & other highly processed foods as well as coffee, alcohol & soft drinks. Plenty of vegetable & fruit juices are best. We suggest you eat and drink alkaline-forming foods such as: all fresh fruits, raw vegetables & juices, salad greens, sprouts, apple cider vinegar, dates, dried apricots, dried figs, grapefruit, melons, raisins, millet, molasses, lima beans and lentils.

When booking your accommodation, if you can, please allow a few days before your fast date, & also a few days after to break the fast correctly. So, 10-14 or more days is best. The smart thing to do is some pre-cleansing (2-3days or up to 1 month depending on the individual) prior to arrival here !

It is also important to come off a cleanse correctly. You can figure 3-5 days of the fruit/vegetable diet, and taking special replacement lactobacteria.

Traditional Thailand Medical Practices

Western medical practices in Thailand are for the most part, restricted to modern hospitals and clinics in Thailand’s larger towns and cities.

However, in villages and rural areas, the clinics and healers specializing in traditional Thai medicine continue to practice various forms of traditional healing which were codified in Thailand over 500 years ago.

Traditional Thai medical theory features many parallels with India’s Ayurvedic healing tradition, as well as Chinese medicine. In practice however, Thai diagnostic and therapeutic techniques may differ significantly. Obviously influenced to some degree by these traditions, Thai medicine in turn has been the predominant influence on traditional medicine in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Most Thai medicine as practiced today is based on two surviving medical texts from the Ayuthaya era, the Scripture of Diseases and the Pharmacopoeia of King Narai. Presumably many more texts were available before the Burmese sacked *Ayuthaya in 1767 and destroyed the kingdom’s national archives. A coexisting oral tradition passed down from healer to healer conforms to the surviving texts; other materia medica developed in the Ratanakosin (Bangkok) era are founded on both these texts and the oral tradition.

Like medical practitioners elsewhere in the world, traditional Thai physicians perform diagnoses by evaluating the pulse, heartbeat, skin color/texture, body temperature, abnormal physical symptoms and bodily excretions (e.g. blood, urine, feces) of their patients. Unlike orthodox Western doctors, Thai healers favor a holistic approach that encompasses internal, external and psycho-spiritual conditions. Thus, once diagnosed, patients may be prescribed and issued treatments from among three broad therapeutic categories.

*Suriyothai, released in September of 2001, reflects the events during this period. The movie is in Thai with English subtitles. Though quite bloody, it is a very good movie.  

Taking Care of Yourself

A few gentle reminders of how to take responsibility for our own lives.

Accept, and respect ourselves, and others.

Feel happy, satisfied, and to allow inner peace.

Take good care of our whole being: Body, Mind, and Spirit.

Make mistakes.

Have, and express all of our emotions (refer to #2).

Tell others how we want to be treated.

Be aware of, and fulfill our own needs.

Set our own priorities about the use of time, money, space, and energy.

Have dreams, goals, and ideals, and to make them happen.

Ask for, and allow others to help us without feeling guilty.

Get what we pay for.

Have healthy, life-enhancing relationships, where clear communication is valued.

Make conscious decisions to change relationships.

Change, emerge, and expand in new directions.

Have our own beliefs, ideas, and values without apology to anyone,

Live in the present moment, free of guilt for the past, and worry for the future.

Relax, take time to nurture ourselves, to let go, to do nothing.

Thai Massage Therapy

The second, and most internationally famous type of Thai medical therapy is ráksãa thaang nûat (massage treatment).

The extensive and highly refined Thai massage system combines characteristics of massage (stroking and kneading the muscles), chiropractic (manipulating skeletal parts) and acupressure (applying deep, consistent pressure to specific nerves, tendons, or ligaments) in order to balance the functions of the four body elements (thâat tháng sìi).

These four elements are: earth (din-solid parts of the body, including nerves, skeleton, muscles, blood vessels, tendons and ligaments); Water (náam-blood and bodily secretions); fire (fai-digestion and metabolism); and air (lom-respiration, and circulation).

Borrowing from India’s Ayurvedic tradition, some practitioners employ Pali-Sanskrit terms for the four bodily elements: pathavidhatu, apodhatu, tecodhatu and vayodhatu.

From the Ayuthaya period until early this century, the Thai government’s Department of Health included an official massage division (phanâek mãw nûat). Under the influence of international medicine and modern hospital development responsibility for the national propagation/maintenance of Thai massage was eventually transferred to Wat Phra Jetuphon (Wat Pho) in Bangkok, where it remains today. Traditional massage therapy has persisted most in the provinces however and has recently enjoyed a resurgence of popularity throughout the country.

Within the traditional Thai medical context, a massage therapist (mãw nûat, literally, ‘massage doctor’) usually applies Thai massage together with pharmacological and/or psycho-spiritual treatments as prescribed for a specific medical problem. Nowadays many Thais also use massage as a tool for relaxation and disease prevention, rather than for a specific medical problem.

Massage, associated with Bangkok’s Turkish baths (àap òp nûat, or ‘bathe-steam-massage’ in Thai) is for the most part performed for recreational or entertainment purposes only (or as an adjunct to prostitution); the techniques used are loosely based on traditional Thai massage.

For problems affecting the nerves rather than the muscular or skeletal structures, many Thais resort to nûat jàp sên (nerve-touch massage), a Chinese-style massage technique that works with the body’s nerve meridians much like acupuncture.

Psycho-Spiritual Healing

Psycho-Spiritual Healing is a third aspect of traditional Thai medicine called ráksaã thaang nai (inner healing) or kâe kam kaò (literally, ‘old karma repair’). It includes various types of meditation, or visualization practiced by the patient, as well as shamanistic rituals performed by qualified healers.

These strategies represent the psycho-spiritual side of Thai medical therapy, and like massage, are usually practiced in conjunction with other types of treatment.

With the increasing acceptance of meditation, hypnosis and biofeedback in Occidental medicine, anthropologists nowadays are less inclined to classify such metaphysical therapy as ‘magico-religious’, accepting them instead, as potentially useful adjunct therapies.

As in the West, psycho-spiritual techniques are most commonly reserved for medical conditions with no apparent physical cause. Or those for which other therapies have proved unsuccessful. In Thailand they are also occasionally employed as a preventive measure, as in the bai sii ceremony popular in north-eastern Thailand and Laos.

This elaborate ceremony, marked by the tying of string loops around a subject’s wrists, is intended to bind the 32 khwãn or personal guardian spirits, each associated with a specific organ, to the individual. The ritual is often performed before a person departs on a long or distant journey, based on the reasoning that one is more susceptible to illness when away from home.

Natural Alternative Integrated

In order to live a happy, healthy and joyous life we know we need to feel good, and this means being as healthy as we can be spiritually, physically and emotionally.

We need sunshine, fresh air, clean water, friendships, good nutrition, and exercise. We need an attitude of service to ourselves, our families, our neighbors and to our communities. We need balance, time out to rejuvenate, and the list goes on.

But how do we find the time to do all of these things? What is preventing you from living the life you not only desire, but deserve? With so much information available on every topic and subject, how do you know what is truly right?

Self-knowledge is empowering, which allows us to live the life we were meant to have. This area of the site is where we will explore the unlimited methods, techniques and disciplines, which will hopefully help us on our own unique path of personal growth, development and self-discovery.

We’ll research to find information and clarification on things like:

Releasing stress and enforcing new patterns of freedom and well-being, energetically balancing the head and the heart.
(Wisdom, and Emotions)

Releasing energy blockages from old emotional issues, promoting new awareness of your personal power.
(Self-direction, and support)

Allowing your inner wisdom to manifest more frequently in daily life.
(Radiate Core Energy)

Connecting with your potential, bringing this energy into present reality.
(Energetic Accomplishment)

Integrative, holistic healing methods
(From Yoga, to Thai Massage to Psycho-spiritual to Ayurvedic)

Healthy and nutritious herbs and recipes…………………..and more!

Some Quotable Quotes that offer wisdom and insights on the subject

We alone are responsible for our health and wellbeing. Do not take
this responsibility lightly. Unknown

Each patient carries his own Doctor inside of him. They come to us not knowing that truth. We are at our best when we give the Doctor who resides in each patient, a chance to go to work. Dr. Albert Schweitzer

To find Health should be the object of the Doctor. Anyone can find disease.
Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO

The Physician is only the servant of nature, not her master. Therefore, it
behooves medicine to follow nature. Paracelsus

You can trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral
deficiency. Dr. Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize Winner

There is something marvelous in all things of nature. Aristotle

Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year. Franklin P. Adams

For what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffers the loss
of his own soul? Unknown

I am not going to fight against death, but for life. Norbert Segard

There are just two ways to live: either you consume the world, or the world
consumes you. It is better to wear out than rest out. Richard Cumberland

The Physician is Natures Assistant. Galen

The Body Never Lies. Martha Graham

The first qualification for a physician is hopefulness. August Bier

To avoid sickness…eat less. To prolong life, worry less. Chu Hui Weng

Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner, or
later have to find time for illness. Edward Stanley

It is part of the cure to be wished to be cured. Seneca

To lengthen they life…..lessen they meals. Ben Franklin

Never go to a Doctor whose office plants have died. Erma Bombeck

The amount of sleep required by the average person is just
five minutes more. Anonymous

There is no cure for birth, and death, save to enjoy the interval.
George Santayana

The Art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures t
he disease. Voltaire

Thai Herbal Medicine Therapy

Traditional pharmacological therapy employs prescribed herbs either singularly, or in combination from among 700 plant varieties (plus a limited number of animal sources) which are infused, boiled, powdered, or otherwise rendered into a consumable form.

Common household medicines (yaa klaang bâan in Thai) include the root and stem of baw-ráphét (Tinospora rumphii, a type of woodclimber) for fever reduction, râak cha-phluu (Piper roots) for stomach ailments and various yaa hãwm (fragrant medicines) used as medicinal balms for muscle pain or headaches. Medicines of this type are readily available over the counter at traditional medicine shops, and to a lesser extent in modern Thai pharmacies.

More complex remedies called yaa tamráp luãng (royally approved/recorded medicine) are prepared and administered only by herbalists skilled in diagnosis, as the mixture and dosage must be adjusted for each patient. One of the most well-known yaa tamrap luang is chanthá-liilaa, a powerful remedy for respiratory infections and influenza-induced fevers.

As in the Chinese tradition, many Thai herbs find their way into regional cuisine with the intent of enhancing health, as well as taste. Phrík thai (black pepper, Piper nigrum), bai krà-phaw (stomach leaf) and bai maeng-lák (a variety of basil) are common curry ingredients which have proven antacid/carminative properties. Thais eat soups containing mará (bitter melon), a known febrifuge, to bring down a fever.

Ayurvedic Head Massage

By Narenda Metha

That’s Using Your Head. Do-it-yourself Ayurvedic head massage stops stress, and stimulates healing.

Do you often come home from work feeling tired and worn out? You have the power to melt away pain and relieve stress in your own fingertips by giving yourself an Indian head massage.

Massage has always played an important part in Indian life, mentioned in the earliest Ayurvedic texts that date back nearly 4,000 years. When used in conjunction with herbs, spices and aromatic oils, massage can encourage the body’s natural healing abilities.

Indian head massage supports the nervous system by alleviating stress; stimulates the lymphatic system, encouraging the elimination of toxins; helps break down muscle knots; relieves chronic neck and shoulder stiffness; increases oxygen uptake in tissues; and improves circulation. Head massage can also be used to stimulate hair growth, improve concentration and relieve migraine pain.

Begin by choosing an oil. Sesame, mustard, almond, coconut and olive oils are most commonly used. Massage the oil into your head, starting from the sides and working towards the top. Work your way toward the front and back of the head. Gently massage the whole head with your thumbs and fingers. Grasp fistfuls of hair at the roots and tug from side to side, keeping your knuckles very close to the scalp. Squeeze at the temples with the heels of the hands and make slow, wide, circular movements. Look down slightly and massage the back of the neck by squeezing and rolling the muscles.

Begin at the top of the neck and work your way down, first with one hand and then with the other hand. Place the thumb of your left hand under the left occipital area (base of the head) and the thumb of your right hand under the right occipital area and relax the tight muscles by using friction or a rubbing movement. Place your left hand on your right shoulder near your neck. Using medium pressure, gently squeeze the shoulder muscle that starts at the base of your neck. Work your way outwards along your shoulder to your arm and then down as far as your elbow. When you reach your elbow, go back to the base of your neck and do this twice more. Concentrate on squeezing the muscle tissue.

Now place the flattened palm of your left hand beside the base of your neck on the right-hand side. Rub along the top of your right shoulder and continue down your right arm where you squeezed the muscles before. When you reach your elbow, go back to the base of the neck and repeat the action twice. Change arms and work the other side. Finally, rub lightly with your hands all over the head; extend this movement to cover your face. You can use these movements without oil. If possible, allow a few minutes afterwards to relax.

Adapted from Indian Head Massage: Discover the Power of Touch by Narenda Metha (Thorsons, 1999).

Understanding your Ayurvedic Constitution can Bring Headache Relief

By Jennifer Barrett

A headache sufferer’s medicine chest often tells the story of once-promising treatments abandoned. Sedatives, beta-blockers, and narcotics represent just some of the high-octane prescriptions people use to quell extreme pain.

And there’s a lot of pain around. The heavyweight champions of headaches are migraines and clusters. Migraines affect more than 26 million Americans, according to the American Medical Association, and are three times more common in women, especially those in their 20s and 30s.

Migraines cause moderate-to-severe pain and last anywhere from four to 72 hours, often on one side of the head. They frequently include symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and acute light and sound sensitivity.

Clusters are less common; only 1 percent of the population is affected, and 80 percent of those are men. Clusters cause brain-throbbing pain often described as a “poker in the eye.” They traditionally occur daily for periods of weeks, months, or even years, with each headache lasting on average less than one hour.

The menu of drugs used for either type of headache does bring some relief but not for everyone and not all the time. Many Ayurvedic practitioners believe the greatest flaw of these drugs is they seldom get to the root of the problem. “Often practitioners of Western medicine only detect the last two stages of disease development, the point when the problem manifests and bears clinical signs,” says Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha, D.Sc., founder of the Ayurveda Holistic Center and the School of Ayurveda in Bayville, New York. “But problems start long before that.”

Looking beyond the immediate pain, you’ll find several contributing and relatively manageable factors. The first place to check, suggests Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D., medical director at The Raj Maharishi Ayur-Veda Health Center in Fairfield, Iowa, is the balance of doshas.

“People who are stronger in pitta, or the fire element, will often be more prone to migraine,” she says. “Pitta governs digestion and metabolism, and for them eating pitta-aggravating foods, such as red wine, aged cheeses, or acidic fruits like tomatoes and citrus, can make things worse. When diet, stomach, and liver get excessively acidic, the blood can get some quality of that, which provokes aggravation of nerves and then blood flow to the head.”

In addition to dietary precautions, Lonsdorf recommends cooling the nervous system by applying a small amount of pitta-pacifying ghee (clarified butter) daily into the nostrils and sniffing. Also try a mixture of one part powdered ginger with four parts rock sugar or organic turbinado sugar; put one-quarter teaspoon in a half cup cool water and drink. This activates purification of the digestive tract and prevents nausea and vomiting.

Clusters also reflect the digestion problems of pitta, says Lonsdorf, along with an imbalance in vata, the air element that governs nerves and circulation. “To calm vata, go to bed early and give yourself regular self-massages with organic sesame or olive oil.” Clusters’ signature traits—teary eyes, facial sweating, and stuffy nose—signal the body’s attempt to flush out toxins. So Lonsdorf suggests regular purifying, such as a daily 10-minute eucalyptus steam inhalation.

Spirituality, Yoga and Hinduism

A very special thanks to Giruji (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Mysore, India) for his thoughts on “Spirituality, Yoga, Hinduism.”

Yoga is from the Sanskrit word ‘Yug’ meaning union {with the Divine}. These are the different types of Yoga. Before we examine the differences we should remember that all of them lead to the same goal which is ‘Unification with the Divine’. The yoga paths can be broadly classified into:

  • Bhakti yoga – Path of Devotion
  • Karma yoga – Path of Selfless Action
  • Jnana yoga – Path of Transcendental Knowledge
  • Ashtanga yoga – Path of Patanjali (eight-step path)

Unfortunately, yoga in the west has come to mean ‘Hatha’ yoga which is mainly physical exercise, and postures (asanas). In fact, asana is only a single step in the eight-step path (Ashtanga yoga of Patanjali). Patanjali is quick to point out that asanas are to be used as a stepping stone for the higher paths, since just working on the beauty and welfare of an impermanent object (the body) is a waste of time and effort.

Ashtanga yoga is sometimes referred to as Raja yoga . However, Ashtanga yoga is more of a philosophy like basic research. While Raja yoga usually refers to specific techniques which are based not only Ashtanga yoga, but also on various [minor] Upanishads.

Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion (to the Divine). It is pure selfless love from the heart. A Bhakti yogi feels that whenever he thinks of God, God thinks more of him. A relationship between a Bhakta, and God can never be described in words.

Karma yoga is the path of selfless service. For a karma yogi, the activities of human life is a God-given opportunity to serve Him. He does not feel that the world is an illusion, does not encounter the ego-given ‘highs’ of success or the ‘lows’ of failure. Thus a karma yogi is detached while carrying out his duties on the earth.

Jnana yoga is the path of knowledge. A Jnana yogi wants to understand the transcendental truth. He wants to solve the mystery of birth, death and the purpose of life. Hindu scriptures describe a Jnani yogi as one who utters Neti, Neti meaning ‘not this, not this’ to differentiate between what is permanent and impermanent. He uses viveka (discernment) for moving on from avidya (ignorance) to vidya (knowledge). He discerns that the world as perceived by the senses, is not real, but an illusion conjured up by the mind.

Ashtanga (eight-step) yoga was developed by Patanjali. The eight steps that would lead a seeker from ignorance to Truth are:

  • Yama - Self-control
  • Niyama – Strict observance of character
  • Asanas – Body postures
  • Pranayama – Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  • Pratyahara – Withdrawal from sense-desires
  • Dharana – Concentration on an object
  • Dhyana – Meditation on the Divine
  • Samadhi – Union with the Divine

Raja yoga is a science. There is no unconditional faith required. It is similar to a person who would go to the doctor for illness, and take the medicine the doctor gives, with a faith that it will cure him. If he followed all the doctor’s orders but still wasn’t cured, then it is the fault of the doctor, and not that of the patient. Any person who wants to seriously pursue meditation as his path should read the Patanjali’s yoga sutras. Huge commentaries have been written on each of his sutra (meaning ‘thread’).

Brief description of Kundalini Yoga
Most of the saints have agreed that the culmination of the Kundalini Shakti is essential for enlightenment. Various types of Raja yoga’s (including siddha yoga, kriya yoga, laya yoga, sahaja yoga, etc.) end with the activation, and culmination of the Kundalini shakti at the crown chakra. They may be referred to as Kundalini yoga. Kundalini is the dormant energy which lies at the base of spine. Extensive information on the Kundalini, including the Kundalini FAQ, can be found in the Kundalini Resource Center. INFORMATION is provided including chakras, and the quotes of some saints.

Yoga, life, and the search
A serious search for truth is almost always based on answering the question “Who am I”. All other questions are mere details. One of the greatest scientists, Erwin Schrodinger, examines consciousness, and tries to answer this question in his book “What is Life”. Each of us has the indisputable impression that the sum total of their experience, and memory, forms a unit, quite distinct from that of any other person. He refers to it as “i”. What is this “I”? If you analyze it closely, you will, I think, find that it is just a little bit more than a collection of single data, namely the canvas upon which it is collected.

And you will upon closer introspection, find that what you really mean by “I”, is that ground-stuff upon which they are collected….The youth that was “I”. You may come to speak of him in the third person. Indeed protagonist of the novel you are reading is probably nearer to your heart, certainly more intensely alive, and better known to you. Yet, there has been no intermediate break, or death….In no case, is there a loss of personal existence to deplore…..Nor will there ever be. The search starts, and ends with you, but when the search ends, you are aware of the reality of “You”. As with any search, one has to be constantly aware of the three P’s: Purpose of the Search….The Correct Practice, and Procedure to follow in the search, and Possible imPediments.

Purpose

Before one embarks to practice, and master yoga, one should always recall the purpose of one’s life. Hindu scriptures state over and over again that liberation is possible only in the human life. In that aspect, humans are superior to angels. In the holy Quran the angels are requested to bow before the humans for this reason. A similar theme can be observed when the Lord of Death, Yama, ‘confesses’ to Nachiketa in Katha Upanishad that even he has to let go of his reign (as the Lord of Death), and become a human being in order to attain Brahman. While Yoga scriptures believe in heaven and hell, they are quick to point out that these states are as impermanent as the human life, and its possessions.

The purpose of human life is to attain liberation from the eternal cycle {called samsara}. All material happiness is impermanent, all attachments to human life are impermanent. Hence liberation through true selfless love for the Divine, and all beings is the only path to eternal happiness. Hence, every moment which is not spent in the service, love, and contemplation of the Divine is wasted, (in my humble opinion). An obvious win-win strategy is to choose the path of spiritualism, and abandon materialism!! Always remember “For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffers the loss of his own soul ? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul”. [Matthew 16,26]. A discourse by Satya Sai Baba on this subject can be found HERE.

Practice

Having realized that the purpose of living is to achieve the state of ‘living in God’, a right practice has to be adhered to. The practice which is outlined here takes years to perfect, and practice at every moment of our life. The practice is usually likened to that of a calf, which tries to get up and falls, repeats the process again and again, until it has enough strength to stand on its feet, and becomes a cow. The key is to slowly absorb the truths, practice it sincerely, and the goal will be reached. Hindu Scriptures describes three finite dimensional human qualities (Gunas) in every human being, though varying in proportion.

  • Sattvic: purity, knowledge and joy
  • Rajsic: active, desire and restlessness
  • Tamsic: inaction, delusion and dullness

These three gunas are the basic constituents of Prakrti (nature). However the Self (Truth) is above these gunas. With rigorous practice, devotion, and determination, we can become, and maintain our sattvic nature all the time. A person through the sincere, dedicated practice of yoga can transcend these gunas, and become a triguNaatiita to be freed from samsara.

Yoga is a philosophy which has to be practiced continuously, throughout the day, week, year, and life. The ability to be calm in midst of action, the ability to have a quiet mind in midst of a turmoil is the mark of a true yogi. A lotus (yogi) lives in the marsh (the material world), but is unaffected by it. It opens its beautiful petals (mind, heart and soul) to the loving grace of the Sun (God). The lotus has petals which are unaffected by water (sense, desires), and marsh (evil) with its beautiful stem (good) indicating that both do co-exist in the material world, but without the Sun (God), the lotus (yogi) will die.

Since yoga is a direct link with the Divine, there is no use in pretending. Aspirants need to be sincere, dedicated, and devoted to the Divine. Devotion is meaningful only if one surrenders one’s ego, or at least makes an attempt to surrender it. It is wrong to judge other paths, or to advocate the philosophy you follow as the only right path, because all paths lead to the Divine too. It hardly matters if one loves Jesus, Allah, or Krisna, or prefers to meditate on an impersonal form like Tao, or Brahman.

While a Bhakti yogi wishes to retain both his individuality, and the personality of God (since he considers God as a Supreme person, and not as an intangible Absolute), a Jnana yogi strives to transcend all the subject-object relationship. As Ramakrishna remarks ‘When I think of the Supreme Being as inactive-neither creating, or preserving, nor destroying, I call him Brahman, the impersonal God. When I think of Him as active-creating, preserving, and destroying, I call him Sakti, or Maya, or Prakriti, the Personal God. But the distinction between them does not mean a difference. The personal, and the Impersonal are the same thing, like milk and its whiteness…It is impossible to conceive of the one without the other. The Divine Mother and Brahman are one.’

One may appreciate and practice the simple guidelines for ‘right’ living provided in an inspiring fashion by Kipling’s IF, and DESIDERATA.

Lessening of attachment to sense-desires, and the ability to love unconditionally (by pure devotion to God) are very essential. The first concept can be illustrated by a simple story often told by Satya Sai Baba:

(paraphrased) ‘In India, the monkey-catcher places nuts in a pot with a narrow mouth. The monkey is attracted to these nuts, and puts its hand inside the path, and clenches its hands at the nuts. When the monkey-catcher comes to catch the monkey, the monkey desperately wants to run away, but thinks that someone is holding its hand inside the pot. If it unclenches its hand, and LETS GO, it is home free.

The man is similar to the monkey, and once he lets go of his sense-desires (nuts), he is freed from the eternal cycle of birth, and rebirth (pot), and is not worried about the monkey-catcher (death) anymore, and is liberated. Hence, peace and bliss automatically descends on a being whose mind has no ego, and is freed from wants, and desires.

As Patanjali repeatedly points out, the liberation, and bondage is from one’s thoughts. The monkey mind however, needs something. A monkey is often seen to climb up and down a pole, just to keep itself busy. This pole can be a mantra which will give the mind something to chant.

Discrimination is the essence of non-attachment. To be discriminatory means to analyze each thought, and action, and inquire whether this leads us towards the Goal, or farther from it. This simple technique makes one realize that most of our actions lead away from the goal of realizing the divine. While it is easy to discriminate during our calm moments, we should slowly cultivate the ability to discriminate all the time.

The non-attachment occurs in three steps, in my opinion. First, you cultivate a love for God, and an attachment to Him, by examining, and trying to model our lives like the many saints who have graced this earth. This is followed by devotion, leading to an understanding of the spirit within each person, and finally realizing, and experiencing the spirit behind everyone.

The second concept of devotion can be illustrated by a simple story from the book titled Tibetan book of living, and dying

by Sogyal Rinpoche

At the time of Buddha, there lived an old beggar woman called “Relying on Joy”. She used to watch the kings, princes, and people making offerings to Buddha, and his disciples, and there was nothing she would have liked more than to be able to do the same. So she went begging, but at the end of a whole day all she had was one small coin. She took it to the oil-merchant to try and buy some oil. He told her that she could not possibly buy anything with so little. But when he heard that she wanted it to make an offering to Buddha, he took pity on her and gave her the oil she wanted.

She took it to the monastery where she lit a lamp. She placed it before Buddha, and made this wish: “I have nothing to offer but this tiny lamp. But through this offering, in the future may I be blessed with the lamp of wisdom. May I free all beings from their darkness. May I purify all their obscurations, and lead them to enlightenment.

That night the oil in all the other lamps went out. But the beggar woman’s lamp was still burning at dawn, when Buddha’s disciple Maudgalyayana came to collect all the lamps. When he saw that one was still alight, full of oil, and with a new wick, he thought, “There’s no reason why this lamp should still be burning in the daytime,” and he tried to blow it out. But it kept on burning. He tried to snuff it out with his fingers, but it stayed alight. He tried to smother it with his robe, but still it burned on.

The Buddha had been watching all along, and said, “Maudgalyayana, do you want to put out that lamp? You cannot. You could not even move it, let alone put it out. If you were to pour the water from all the oceans over this lamp, it still wouldn’t go out. The water in all the rivers and lakes of the world could not extinguish it. Why not? Because this lamp was offered with devotion, and with purity of heart and mind. And that motivation has made it of tremendous benefit. When Buddha had said this, the beggar woman approached him, and he made a prophecy that in the future she would become a perfect Buddha, called “Light of the Lamp.” So it is our motivation, good or bad, that determines the fruit of our actions.

Shantideva said: 

Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.

This poem (by Satya Sai Baba) is to be remembered and etched in your heart, mind, soul, and practiced.

Destroying pride man becomes endearing;
Destroying anger man gets rid of sorrow;
Destroying desire man acquires peace;
Destroying greed man achieves happiness.

Thus, the path to eternal freedom consists of three main steps: 

Pravritti (action, external activity) as a method of sublimating the instincts, and impulses;
Nivritti (detachment, internal quietness) as a method of subduing the thirst of the senses, and of the ego;
Prapatti (surrender) as a method of utilizing the senses, the instincts, and impulses, the intelligence, the emotions, for the glorification of the all-knowing, all-directing Divine.

Do and dedicate; work and worship; plan and protect; but do not worry about the fruit. Follow the three D’s: do your Duty without attachment, perform Disciplines to keep the senses under control, and maintain Devotion to God always. This is Dharma, and the secret of spiritual success.

imPediments

A common impediment is to become aware of another path, and start fresh. It is important that one should take up a path, and stick to it. It is foolish to switch paths thinking that the other path may be faster. This can be illustrated by a simple story by Ramana:
A person wanted to dig a well so that he could drink water whenever he wanted. So he started digging earnestly, and when he reached 20 feet deep, another person came along, and told him to start digging at an another spot.

So this man abandoned this spot, and went digging at an another spot. When he reached 20 feet, and there was no sign of water, he felt despair. He gave up this spot, and started digging at another site. Soon he had many holes of 20 feet deep with no water in sight. He soon died of thirst. If he had stuck to digging at one spot, he would have dug him a good well, and drank water out of it.

Hence, once one learns a particular path from a guru, and starts to practice it with dedication and devotion, he should stick to that path irrespective of what others say about other paths.

Another obstacle is the desire to reveal your progress to others. Scriptures emphasize that a spiritual aspirant should never reveal his experience to an other, except his Guru. He can say that he had never had any such experiences if asked by anyone other than his Guru. There is no use in telling your experiences to a materialistic person, since he is not going to believe you. There is no use in telling it to someone who is not as spiritual as you are, since he may try to emulate your experience (which he shouldn’t because each has an unique experience), or may become envious of you.

There is no use in telling your experiences to a spiritually advanced being, because he may have already experienced it, or he has no use for it. Your Guru, since he/she knows you intimately, may be able to interpret the experience for you, but no one else can.

While being very much aware of the absolute superiority of the spirit over the material, and the spiritual consciousness within himself, the aspirant will frequently, and constantly be confronted by the karmic elements of his incarnation bringing him sorrow, bitterness, and even despair!!! However, the true path is never lost for someone who has started the journey. Even the material world may drag you away for a short while, but the erring son will be returned to the father [Jesus]. As Ramana Maharishi used to say, ‘Who once enters on the Path cannot lose it, just as the prey which falls into the tiger’s jaws will be never allowed to escape’.

Besides these obstacles, one arrives at a time when one has to make decisions about his life, and asks questions which are called “two-path” questions. One such question is whether we should retaliate against people who harm us ? One answer is no, love them, but avoid them. The other answer is “Turn the other cheek” [Jesus]. Yet an another answer is, that we should uphold our Dharma (duty) even by fighting, but not worry about the result [Krishna].

Another question is whether we should tell about our path to people who query on our new way of life and resist our change ? One answer is no, the path should be a secret. The other answer is “Render, therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s” [Jesus]. One can give many similar examples, but no one can say what is right, except yourself.

Apart from these “two-path” obstacles, are obstacles from our mind with endless why’s. Why does a soul need a body to liberate? Why can’t we glimpse at the end of the path everyday ? If sensual pleasures, and the material world are obstacles, why did God create them [if He did] in the first place ? Anyone who is stuck in this duality is urged to read Zanoni by Bulwer Lytton. The easiest and the best answer, is to look at your own consciousness. As Plotinus in Enneades said “Enter into thyself and look; and if thou are not beautiful, do as the sculptor with his statue : he smoothes this line, he planes another, giving a nobler expression, until the whole becomes the resplendent picture of perfect beauty. And thou shouldst do the same.”

Meditation

If you have never meditated then the book, Meditation by Eknath Easwaran, is a good place to start. This book illustrates how, by constant practice of meditation, one can come to know that he is neither the body nor the mind, but the I its self, which is pure and divine. The book, though meant for novices, provides a great deal of insight into applying meditation in everyday life, and provides common sense direction for an uncommon life, as the subtitle of the book says. Other good books for beginners are written by Lawrence LaShan, Kathleen McDonald, and John Novak. All the three have written different books under the same title ‘How to meditate’.

Another good book on meditation for the non-spiritual, non-religious reader is, ‘Relaxation Response’ by Benson. Some basic MEDITATION techniques are given here. A serious aspirant in the path of meditation should read, and practice the techniques given by Patanjali in his yoga sutras. They can also try the OPEN AIR meditation. It should be clear to any aspirant that meditation is the only way, and reading books are not going to help you directly. As Swami Nityananda used to say, “A mind can make thousand books, but thousand books cannot make a mind”. I meditate, therefore I am.

Mantras

“In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” says the Gospel (St. John). A passage in the oldest of the vedas, Rig Veda, says, ” In the beginning was Brahman, with whom was the Word, and the Word was truly the Brahman”. Mantra is just a Word, or phrases. The act of repeating it is called Japa .

While mere repetition of the Word is insufficient, meditation on its meaning, and manifestation is an excellent way to transcend the mind. But the latter follows the former (repetition) naturally. Mantras and Japa have played an important role in Christianity. The prayer on Jesus, and the chanting of “Hail Mary”, and their usefulness has been detailed in the books ‘The way of the Pilgrim’, and ‘The Pilgrim’, continues his way based on the spiritual pilgrimage of a Russian monk during the 1800’s.

There are a multitude of mantras available. The best is the one given by a Guru. You may wonder why a Guru is needed for a simple word (or sentences). This can be best explained by a story told often in India:

(paraphrased) A king and a minister were talking about the effectiveness of mantras. The king felt that anyone can recite the mantra and no initiation was necessary. At that time the guards brought in a man who had stolen some property. The minister shouted, ” Arrest this man and put him in the dungeon”. The guards did not move and gazed at the minister surprisingly. The king repeated the same words and the guards put the prisoner in the dungeon. Immediately the king realized the value of the word spoken, and how proper authority for mantras matter.

However, one can choose something like “Jesus”, “Krisna”, “Rama” or “Allah”‘. A detailed explanation of the mantras and passages for meditation and recitation, which have been used for ages, can be found in the book by Eknath Easwaran.