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Real Yoga with Swami Harinanda
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Swami Harinanda

December 25, 1928 to August 19, 2014

Sadly, I must inform you that Swami Harinanda passed away early in the afternoon on Tuesday, August 19, 2014. His death came quickly and without pain. As per his wishes there was no service nor memorial, although he would have appreciated donations to the SPCA or any animal shelter that you like. It goes without saying that this one–of–a–kind and great man will be greatly missed.

I first came to know Swami Harinanda around 1995. He was a customer of mine. One way or another, we got talking about spirituality and he mentioned to me that he was a swami. I must admit, I thought he was joking. But then I realized he was serious. We corresponded by email. Amazingly, I still have a printed copy of his early emails to this day.

Swami Harinanda was able to answer some of my basic questions about yoga and although I had started on the yogic path before I met him, talking to and knowing Swami Harinanda helped make my path more clear.

I was lucky enough to have met Swami Harinanda for the first time in April, 1996. I can remember the first time I met him as I drove up to his house. He came outside to greet me — I felt a great sense of joy and calm come over me.

The next day, Swami Harinanda personally taught me the science of yantra yoga at his dining table. I wrote down the principles of yantra yoga on both sides of a blank piece of paper as Swami Harinanda talked. It was a beautiful moment for me — finally my teacher had come. These lessons I still have to this day and still act as my foundation regarding yantra yoga.

Starting around late 1996 to 1997, I helped Swami Harinanda build an early web site. Later we expanded and moved his web site to this current location Swami Harinanda wanted people to see the words real yoga — he wanted people to awaken to the truth of what real yoga is not. Swami Harinanda was not interested in yoga for health.

While building the real yoga web site, Swami Harinanda didn't know what information we should add. So I suggested to him that we should add informaton that is not easily found elsewhere regarding real yoga. I told Swami Harinanda that myself and others want to know why we should practice yoga, what are the types of yoga, who are some famous yogis and a lesson in pure hatha yoga. So this is what we did. I asked the questions, Swami Harinanda wrote the content.

Swami Harinanda was a pure teacher. He would never accept money for teaching. Yoga or spirituality is part of universal knowledge that belongs to everyone. Therefore, one cannot charge for what already belongs to them. Swami Harinanda always said that a good teacher has a day job and then teaches on his or her own time for free. The teacher should pay for any room rental, etc — this is the sign of a pure teacher which Swami Harinanda was.

Swami Harinanda was taught or told personally by Ramana Marharshi to never accept payment and as Swami Harinanda would always say, Ramana Maharshi is never wrong.

Swami Harinanda did not go to meet Ramana Maharshi in India, instead, they met on the astral plane. Ramana told Swami Harinanda that he did not need to be in a cave or anything like that to be a good student of yoga. Swami Harinanda took those words to heart and lived a normal life while being totally dedicated to self realization.

Swami Harinanda knew many little or lesser known things about yoga. He really studied the theory of yoga and put himself into a position to meet people that would impact him. Somewhere along the way he learned the Master's Chant, as an example, and many more things. Swami Harinanda would openly teach kriya yoga as well. Swami Harinanda loved the yogic life and just absorbed every little detail.

In 1996, I was personally quite ill and possibly near death. Swami Harinanda gave me the book on Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekanda to read. It was the best medicine I've ever received. From that day onwards, I fell madly in love with karma yoga. Knowing this, Swami Harinanda bestowed the name Karmananda to me. I thank him very much for this honour.

Swami Harinanda was a good teacher, a good person and a good friend.

- Yogi Karmananda

jaideemarketing-karmananda -a-t- ... replace -a-t- with @ to send me an email.

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Mysteries are fun, but absolute reality - or at least the seeking of it is more fun.


When first pondering the ephemeral word - soul - one may feel that it is inexplicable. Conditioned as we are, since a very tender age to think of it in religious terms, we find it hard to conceptualize it in a real time materialistic sense.

Do we really have a soul? While most people will answer this affirmatively, each of us must consider why we feel we have a soul. Would we really have even had the notion of a personal soul, if it hadn't been drilled, drummed, and sometimes beaten, into us at a very early stage? All this teaching is part of our conditioning, and it is hard to erase - that is if it needs to be erased.

I recently received a letter basically stating that "those who wrote the Bible and all the Scriptures, also believed the world to be flat." In the early stages of our development when we do not have any notion of what a "thing" is, we generally believe what others tell us and accept it as part of our general knowledge. There are those, however, who resist this sort of input and try to put everything to the test. While we may not be able to know everything, we are perfectly able to test for ourselves the real truth behind what others would have us to believe.

It is common knowledge that even in the simplest things, such as witnessing an accident, each witness will invariably come up with a unique account of the accident, that does not quite coincide with all the others. This has been very eloquently highlighted in the famous Japanese film Rashamon. The film tells of three witnesses to a murder who, in court, were each perfectly and sincerely convinced that what they saw, was what actually occurred. The film was artfully contrived, so that the audience, who also witnessed the murder on the screen, left the cinema without being able to precisely point out which of the witnesses was correct. The moral underlying all of this is that even when we see something with our own eyes, we should do a double blink-think.

Is it not therefore the same with most of the views we accept?. Have we really put them to the test.? The Soul! How can we test it? It's no use saying, "But I just know we have a soul- I can feel it." Or "Of course we have a soul, we would be like animals if we didn't have a soul." Or even, "But we know we have a soul, all the religions tell us we have. If we didn't have a soul we wouldn't have an after life and therefore there would be no heaven", and so on and so forth.

Once we have accepted the basic premise that the soul exists as a mathematical axiom on blind faith, everything else we are told about the soul becomes quite easy to accept. The problem lies in the reasons underlying our acceptance of the basic initial premise.

For instance, what if one said out loud, discreetly and out of earshot of eavesdroppers "There is no soul"? This is a tremendously difficult exercise, even if one is alone in a room and one knows that no one else can possibly hear the statement. To oneself, this statement would sound highly blasphemous, rather perverted and vaguely obscene. This is because the notion of a personal soul is so deeply rooted in most people, that the denial of the soul creates a feeling of having uttered the unutterable, or having unspeakably transgressed a profound taboo, deserving of instant death by lightning!

Early Yogic writings mention the Akashic records that keep track of every thought and action of each one of us, allowing us a million or so lifetimes to work out the Karma generated in previous lives. But hold on a minute! Is there really an Akashic record? Or is this just a fabulous tale "told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"? Isn't it comforting to those, too lethargic about doing anything at all to attain Moksha (Liberation) in this lifetime, to think that they have a million or so "second chances" to make good the damage? After all, we, as a species, are well known to put off until tomorrow, when we will really find the time.

While it would be a gross exaggeration to actually contend that the effort exerted in Yogic or so-called Spiritual attempts at self-discovery would actually be better spent on materialistic satisfactions, as long as one is controlled by conditioning and beliefs, leading to false hopes of a second chance in some other life, real prospects for inner development will remain terribly gloomy indeed.

This view is very underlined in the Catholic faith in which large numbers of the faithful, totally ignorant or unmindful of the real underlying mystical truths of the Sacrament of Penitence or Confession, go about feeling they can do whatever they please and merely confess it and have their "slates" (read "akashic record") totally cleaned by murmuring a few prayers for "absolution" (neologism of "absolute solution"?). So right after their "confession", they are back to their normal lives, quite tranquilly repeating the so-called confessed "sins", since another reprieve is just around the corner at the confessional the following week! But let us not place judgement on any particular religion, for no matter what our faith, most of us are quite happy, in one way or another, to pray each for the others, only to go about our usual business as before with ne'er a thought for those we felt so needful of our prayers. How many of us spend blasts of energy in short-term commitments (the local fĂªte), to further seemingly altruistic causes, only to then slink self-righteously back into the soft life, even as millions starve and suffer. It is simplistic, but we are such fools when it comes to self deception.

While some will no doubt judge me cynical, I invite all my readers to consider that over the past 60 years, our planet has lived through about 50 military conflicts - some large enough to warrant worldwide attention and others only involving what may seem to be petty tribes and cross-border clashes. All, however, without distinction, have claimed countless numbers of innocent civilian victims. Decades after peace has been "negotiated", these conflicts continue to claim innocent victims, as long-forgotten anti-personnel landmines placed during the conflict maim and kill war survivors, even as they seek some meagre succour from the ailing but ever generous land.

The solemn scenes of public prayer meetings and other spiritual "events" calling for peace would make me laugh, if, in fact, they weren't so pathetic. These "do-gooders" would be infinitely better off, if they spent the same time trying to get deeper insight of themselves. It is only through deep self-knowledge that one can generate change in oneself. And unless one wants to continue in the self-delusion of past conditionings, it is only through changing oneself that once can really make a difference in the world.

Our base instincts, such as self preservation and preservation of the species, is so strong that even as we sit in the comfort that the modern world has brought to us and generously pray for those that are in need, should we ever be needy ourselves and the roles reversed, our innate vicious greed will rise to the surface, provoking us, under the guise of purely imagined self-righteousness, to indiscriminately pillage the very people we once prayed to help.

Even as my gentle reader reads these lines, teeming millions pray and feel that they sincerely wish to alleviate the suffering of the starving multitudes. These do-gooders don't really know what they are praying for. Recent studies by technocrats, who love to investigate these issues, have revealed that:

There are approximately 6 billion acres of arable, mineable, farmable and usable land in the world, and at the same time, there are also about 6 billion people. In North America each person uses about 14 acres of that land, while in Europe the figure is about 11 acres per person. As expected, exploitable land usage plummeted as poorer nations were considered, reaching something like 0.25 acres per person in sub-Saharan Africa. This inequality is staggering and intolerable.

This figures clearly indicate that to raise living standards worldwide, the so-called developed countries must drastically reduce their consumption of global resources and therefore, their creature comforts, so as to allow less developed nations to improve their living conditions. It must be noted that the key factor here is not possession of resources (Africa is in fact incredibly rich in natural resources) but the consumption of the resources available worldwide. This is clearly pointed out by the fact that while many black Africans work in diamond mines in their home countries, the current global trade in diamonds is controlled by Lebanese, Israeli, Dutch and Indian cartels.

The point here, however, is that these do-gooders who organize prayer circles in an attempt to eradicate poverty worldwide, should also realize that the solution to the poverty problem basically lies in the transfer of wealth from developed nations to poorer nations, entailing a corresponding impoverishment of the developed countries. The question therefore is, are these prayerful enthusiasts so intent on their prayers being answered that they are willing to sacrifice their own material wealth? Would they continue with their prayers if they knew the consequences that such divine intervention would require that all of them to sacrifice a great deal of their creature comforts? While I am not yet totally disenchanted with human altruism, I still feel that they would not.

To point this out more clearly, I shall deal with the consumption of fossil fuels. According to 1994 figures, the United States, that accounts for 3% of the world population, consumes 16% of the world's production of fossil fuels (petroleum products). India, that accounts for 16% of the world's population, consumes 3% of the earth's production of fossil fuels. In order for India to develop and at the same time contain the dangerously high generation of hot-house gases worldwide, India would have to increase its fossil fuel consumption (until a viable alternative is found) while the US would have to correspondingly decrease its fossil fuel demand. Well-intentioned persons in the US may pray fervently for the eradication of poverty in India and they may even donate money for development in India and cut down on their personal use of fossil fuels, but the fact remains that they will not vote to cut down the fuel consumption of the entire US economy to counter-balance India's fuel requirements to the extent necessary to generate US-type living standards in India.

It is an economic reality that whenever the underdeveloped world tries to make a stab at recovering their true share of the world's resources, the more developed nations in which these wonderful expressions of prayerful solidarity took place, do not hesitate to answers "as one man" and jointly collaborate to put an end to all such attempts. The rich nations simply feel that they have precedence over the world's resources by virtue of their "right of possession" and will defend their priority by all means possible, including military intervention against the very people they so fervently pray for. A glaring example of this is the tightening of immigration regulations throughout the developed world and the increasing xenophobia in Europe. While not exactly creating waves of race related crimes, recent reports that the UK would no longer have a "white Caucasian" majority by 2060, did contribute to increased public concerns about "racial balance" in Britain.

Coming back to the Soul, however, an unreasonable notion that touches on the imponderable and the un-provable, as Yogis we are aware that when we take full responsibility for whatever we do and when we use our present lifetime, and this lifetime alone, to work towards getting who we are, nothing can touch us. Whether we lose or win a million dollars or even at the death of a loved one, parent or child, we find that our inner balance remains perfectly stable, since it is firmly fixed in self and untouched by the shadow pictures of starvation and poverty.

This reminds me of the story of Ramana Maharshi who, on being attacked and beaten by some thugs, just sat and took it, as he knew they were in effect only hurting themselves and would soon stop. When you Know you are one, you know that whatever one does to another, they do to themselves.

Naturally, the same law applies regardless of whether or not one is aware of it, so that by giving, you really enhance yourself, and by taking you only reduce your self. That is why, and there is some truth in some scripture, Jesus said, "To those that have, it shall be given, and to those that have not, it shall even be taken away."

So rather than wasting one's time, that is to say, one's own physical time in trying to help others - which may in fact, because of ones ignorance, do them more harm than good, - one should spend that time diving deep within and uniting with the self.

Certain students may feel that this is a very selfish view and that all they need to do is get rid of their selfishness immediately. However, as we shall see below, such selfishness is widespread. Consider the following scenario.

Assume, for a moment, that you saw a blind man trying to cross the street and did not help him - and he was struck by a car and killed - you could not live with yourself could you? Better to help him, you will rest well then. That becomes a selfish act as it is to your ultimate benefit. For instance, when your consciousness has been lifted enough to see where there is need, and you do not help or fill that need, or at least try to, you will not rest. You will be most miserable otherwise. The selfish thing to do is respect your state of consciousness and give it its due.

Upon attaining higher states of consciousness, one realizes that knowing the self generates the greatest good to the world, and therefore one tirelessly pursues this end so as to emanate that goodness without lifting a finger.

Ramana says, "If a man's life is irrevocably altered by sitting in silence before a Saint who says nothing, do you not think that better than one who listens to a grand talk by a guru and goes away unchanged?"

When the self is experienced - when one has united with it (through Yoga) one emanates harmony and balance. The impact that one has on the world is like a candle that dispels the darkness in a dark room - silent but perfectly effective. It cannot be otherwise.

So do we have a soul or don't we? I say no and you may say yes, but does it matter? What does matter is that we who have different belief or knowledge systems about such things, regardless, continue getting on with doing the greatest work of all - diving deep within to reach the inner stillness and silence of Self.


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