Rishikesh, India

More lecture notes coming up. Print them out and memorize them if you want to become enlightened.

Hatha yoga – prana energy
Raja yoga – mental energy
Kundalini/Tantra yoga – primal energy

Hatha yoga, in the west, is mainly for health, to make the body more active, but its higher purpose is to make the body steady, inactive.

Bandhas:

These are techniques that act like a dam. They’re used to overcome nature, and are therefore quite dangerous. He says he wouldn’t usually go into techniques but a woman sitting behind me had asked him to go into the techniques and had said she wouldn’t bother coming to the lectures any more if he didn’t. Perhaps she’s a yoga teacher. I think some of the people who come to these lectures are. The Chinese woman that he liked, who left yesterday, was a yoga teacher. He said she came for a few days in January and then had gone back to China and returned with her daughter. He talked about how yesterday after the class the mother was holding onto his feet for five minutes. He was saying no, stop, get up but she was kissing his feet and he was looking at the clock: one minute, two minutes… She got her daughter to tell him that whenever she was in the same room as him she saw stars. I think the mother’s English was not very good so she’s brought her daughter along as a translator. After the mother had finished with the Swami’s feet the daughter told him that now she had to do the same, though he said she did it genuinely, not because her mother expected to, and she went on for five minutes. The way he’s talking about it I get the impression he thoroughly enjoyed it. They were both very attractive women, the mother about 40 and the daughter about 20.

Jalandhara Bandha – chin lock: sit in the lotus position, inhale, then press your chin into your chest so that you feel the tension in the back of your neck and hold it there until you can’t hold the breath any more. This should be followed by its opposite, looking up at the sky, feeling the tension in the front of your neck. This exercise is good physically as it massages the thyroid gland, and spiritually because it stimulates the throat chakra and holds prana energy in the chest, preventing it from escaping out through the eyes as it usually does.

I keep writing down these terms. Chakras and the various types of energy. I don’t know what I think about them. At the moment I’m just writing down what he says and will decide later what I think about it all, perhaps after trying some of these exercises. I think the point is you’re not meant to intellectualize it all, you’re meant to practice it with an open heart. That’s why he said he like the Chinese woman so much: she came to him with an open heart.

Uddiyana Bandha – stomach lock: again in the lotus position, exhale forcefully and suck in your stomach, holding it until you can’t any more. This strengthens the digestive system (it’s particularly good for diabetic people) and spiritually it pushes energy inside, into the suchum nanadi (I don’t know what that is – must have missed that lecture) and sucks the lower energies upwards.

Moola Bandha is done on an inhalation. Beginners are told to contract the muscles around the anus and sex organs whereas advanced students contract the centre of the perineum. Aparn energy, the energy used for throwing things out of the body, naturally moves downwards. This exercise brings this energy upwards towards the navel. For this reason the exercise should only be performed when the stomach is clean and empty (have a good dump and bathe in the Ganga beforehand) and should not be done by women when they are menstruating.

Maha Bandha is doing all three of these together. It should be done three to five times each morning and evening. It creates internal heat, cleanses the body and pulls kundalini energy upwards.

He talks about Rama Krishna, whose body got so hot he had to sit in the Ganga for three hours a day, and then he broke out in heat rashes and realized he needed a guru. You can’t make any spiritual progress without a guru.

A German guy asks what he should do. We don’t have many gurus in Germany.

The problem is not finding a good guru, the problem is finding a good student. If you have to look for a guru you are not ready. When you are ready for a guru the guru will find you. Rama Krishna had five gurus but he never went looking for any of them, they all came to him. He never moved out of his village. This was in Bengal, where Swami says he himself is from and where a number of the masters are from. When Rama Krishna was sitting in the Ganga cooling his heat rashes a woman in a village in what is now Bangladesh had a dream that someone needed a guru and she went to Rama Krishna and became his guru, something that was really not done. He was a Brahmin and she belonged to the Tantric cult, and she was a woman. He was rejected by society.

Even if your guru is an idiot, that’s better than not having a guru at all. He tells the story of a guru in a village who is one of these fake babas, I guess like the overdressed one who put a curse on me yesterday when I didn’t give him money, and a boy goes to him with a problem and he says master, I feel really bad, you must give me a mantra to help me. The guru looks at the boy and realizes he doesn’t have any money so doesn’t want to be bothered with him so to get rid of him he says he must say the mantra: Goat, please take this leaf. He must pick 100 leaves and each time he says the mantra he should hold out a leaf. So the boy goes away and picks himself 100 leaves and he says the mantra 100 times a day for the next 6 months until one day he hears a bleating sound and there’s a goat, taking each leaf as he holds it out. He runs to the guru and tells the guru the mantra worked, he’s now very happy. And he tells the guru what happened. The guru wants to see for himself so the boy gets some leaves and says the mantra but this time the goat doesn’t appear. The boy prays: Oh, goat! Why don’t you appear when my guru is here? A goat-like voice replies: Tell that idiot guru to go, then I will come.

I think the moral of this story is supposed to be that it doesn’t matter too much whether the guru is good or bad, so long as the student has conviction.

Mudras:

1) Tongue lock – touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue
2) Touch your uvula with your tongue – you may need to push it a bit. This is to control the tongue, the most restless sense organ.
3) Put your tongue into the air hole that leads from the top of your mouth up to your nose, but be careful you don’t block it (someone in Germany died doing this). You’ll need a long tongue to do this one. Some people have a cut made under their tongue so that they can stretch it far enough to do this exercise which, when done properly releases something that tastes sweet, a secretion not yet discovered by medical science, but one which can make the body immortal. He talks about Babaji who is apparently 2500 years old, give or take 1000 years, but has the body of a 25 year old, and tells us all to read his book about this guy. He says he knows many people who are several hundred years old. Mere youngsters.

These masters who have conquered the aging process and who are fully self-sufficient, they have no need of society, they can move through space by astrally projecting the physical body.

Gyana Mudra: The index finger touches the thumb. The index finger represents the ego (never use it to point in India) and the thumb represents the divine, so this gesture represents the ego surrendering to the divine. You sit with both hands in this position – doctors will have to study this to see what is actually going on in the brain when we do this.

Namaste Mudra: Hands in prayer position with thumbs against the chest. This is a mentally receptive position. Namaste means “I bow down to the divine in you.” It’s the Hindi greeting, the equivalent of hello, or maybe hello, how are you? It’s what people have been saying to me ever since I got to Rishikesh, though until a couple of days ago I thought they were saying “have a nice day” and was cursing the fact that these American expressions are getting everywhere, or wondering if maybe they thought I was American. Before here I never noticed anyone saying namaste. In Varanasi it was always hello, you are from which country? And then trying to sell boats or hashish. In Bodhgaya it was pretty similar, but followed by invitations to sponsor schools or students, and in Kolkata, on Sudder Street at least, it was often: “Hello, uncle. Please buy rice, uncle. Please, uncle. I’m hungry. We have no rice.”