Every two weeks or so, Swamiji gives an hour of discourse, guided meditation and answers questions online. These Zoom transmissions used to be found as individual posts on this blog, but they are now to be found on a new system that the ashram is beginning to use. This post is a link to that system. All Swamiji’s previous satsangs plus the latest ones can be found here.
With the return of people to the Ashram, we are also able to restart residential sessions of the Yoga Teacher Training Course. We have had two courses in September, now Teacher Training has finally returned live. For the last year or more, the course has continued through online teaching via Zoom. We’ve been scattered around the planet and just logging in once a month.
People arrived as the Autumn sun shone on the turning leaves… Old friendships renewed in person. There’s a closeness develops between people going through two years (almost three) of Yoga Teacher Training. We grow together, share, watch each other making the same mistakes.
Also watch each other turning into quality Yoga teachers. This course rests on the foundation of the experience of Swami Nishchalananda, who was himself a student of Swami Satyananda Saraswati of Bihar for fourteen years. Swamiji founded this ashram, established the training course and now has passed on the running of it to the hands of Swami Krishnapremananda, Swami SatyaDaya, and Tulsi, with this year guest lectures from Debbie Farrer and Rambha. The course evolves continuously as new approaches are sometimes incorporated into the the traditional Teaching.
We finished the course with a gentle, almost intuitive, asana class from Tulsi, then chanting which included a translated reading of each verse of ‘Nirvana Shatkam’. The translation (by Swamiji) is an astonishing exploration of the true nature of existence; an Advaitic text which could also be said to express the principle of ‘neti neti’ (negation of anything you may think that you are, which is ultimately transient).
Please enjoy that recording here (quality best we could get with Zoom transmission audio)……….
Swami Nishchalananda gave this satsang online, to coincide with the festival which celebrates the Guru principle in the Yogic tradition. There are of course other spiritual traditions that also extol the virtues of the Teacher-Student relationship.
After the statement that we do not need a Guru, this is further explained. The Guru Disciple principle is fundamental, actually in almost any subject and not just spirituality. But, in the spiritual journey we have to include the ‘inner’ Guru as central. So the Guru may be a person, something in nature, or simply, that inner Guru which is none other than Conscious Presence as the source of wisdom and inspiration. It is that which resonates with any external Guru, which is why Swamiji says….
The best preparation for finding the Guru is preparing yourself by practice, be that Meditation, Yoga or Reflection.
The extension of this idea of Conscious Presence as the inner Guru can lead to the astonishing conclusion that actually, there is only one Guru, because Conscious Presence, Awareness, transcends the boundaries of individuality.
There is no doubt that some of us need a physical person as Teacher, maybe because we are so out of touch with the inner Guru. But whatever aspect of the Guru principle to which we relate, Swamiji goes on to say that, ‘The function of the Guru is not to teach us anything, but to remove our concepts and our blockages’
A discussion of the Guru principle in terms of the paradigm of the Chakras, tells us that there is a chakra between the intuitive / mind knowledge of Agya chakra, and the crown chakra Sahasrara, (which represents transcendence beyond individuality). This is the Guru Chakra, whose function is to draw us into realising the essence (Tattwa) of the Guru principle.
Swamiji responds to questions after this discourse, and finishes with a guided meditation.
In this satsang Swamiji recommends the medicine of daily awe and wonder to counteract the negative effects of so much fear in the collective psyche at this time. 5 minutes of awe and wonder in the face of nature’s beauty – a flower, a moving vista, the starlit sky – can do wonders for the soul, he reminds us, lifting our spirits generally as well as creating an openness that we can take into our more formal practice. As always, satsang closes with a Q&A.
In this satsang Swamiji stresses the importance of practice, urging us to set aside at least one hour per day for connecting with or opening to our fundamental identity. He also speaks to the challenges brought to all of us by the pandemic, and gently suggests we might use these challenges to inspire our practice and to shake ourselves out of any sense of complacency that may be present. There follows a guided meditation centered on the relationship between the mind with its myriad objects of perception and the underlying Consciousness which perceives through the mind and senses. As always, satsang closes with a Q&A.
In this satsang Swamiji introduces and highly recommends the Yoga Vasistha as an advaitic text full of startling wisdom. From this text he reads and illuminates two verses which, if pondered deeply upon, can revolutionise our understanding of the nature of cause and effect. There follows a meditation on the meaning of the Shanti Path – chanted at the end of each satsang and on many other occasions here at the Ashram and Q&A.
In this lovely satsang full of depth and humour, Swamiji discourses on the Yoga Sutras from a very humane perspective. He emphasises that the path of the yogi is not one of dis-identification with the body and personality in favour of the more fundamental identification with the underlying conscious presence. Identification with the person is not ‘wrong’, he assures us. It is only exclusive identification with the person that leads to a limiting and ultimately frustrating experience. But by expanding our sense of self to encompass both the human being that we are and the more fundamental reality of conscious presence, we can experience greater freedom and resilience in our lives. There follows a meditation and Q&A.
In this special St Valentine’s Day satsang Swami Nishchalananda suggests that we might rename this day ‘Appreciation Day’. He then leads a beautiful mediation on the topic of unconditional love in the form of appreciation, guiding us to offer a flower of appreciation to everyone in our lives and our world who would benefit from a virtual hug at this time – including those who we dislike.
After the meditation comes a Q&A session dealing with questions on the challenges we might be facing in 2021, how to cope with increased work demands arising from the current situation, and how to be liberated from dukkha (frustration).