Light of the Spirit Blog

The “Gospel of Thomas for Awakening” Now Available in Print

Gospel of Thomas for Awakening coverWe are happy to announce the publication of Abbot George’s latest book, The Gospel of Thomas for Awakening: A Commentary on Jesus’ Sayings as Recorded by the Apostle Thomas in printed and ebook formats.

The following is from the back cover of the book:

“From the very beginning there were two Christianities.” 

While the rest of the Apostles dispersed to various areas of the Mediterranean world, the apostle Thomas travelled to India, where growing evidence shows that Jesus spent his “Lost Years,” and which had been the source of the wisdom which he had brought to the “West.”

In The Gospel of Thomas for Awakening, Abbot George shines the “Light of the East” on the sometimes enigmatic sayings of Jesus recorded by his apostle Saint Thomas, revealing their unique and rich practical nature for modern day seekers for spiritual life.

The Gospel of Thomas for Awakening is available at in print and Kindle versions, and at in a number of ebook formats.

Here is a sample chapter of the book:

Ending Duality

Jesus said, When you make the two one, you will become the sons of man, and when you say, ‘Mountain, move away,’ it will move away. (Gospel of Thomas 106)

Making the two one

Unity is always the state of everything: duality is only part of the dream aspect of relative existence, of creation. So what Jesus is saying is that we must dispel the illusion of duality–banish it from our mind–not by intellectual affirmation or any thought process but by entering into the state of Oneness though meditational experience, through prolonged practice of yoga. This is possible because unity lies at the very heart of our existence; it is our eternal nature.

Becoming the Sons of Man

Jesus often referred to himself as Son of Man, and the expression occurs over eighty times in the four Gospels. It appears even more times than that in the Old Testament where it is used by God and angels to address prophets and others that are being taught by direct revelation. So just as Jesus is not the Christ, but rather a Christ, in the way he was a Son of Man in the sense that all human beings are destined to be just the same as he.

Sons of Man and Sons of God are really the same thing, which is reasonable considering that man and God are one. That being so, these words of Saint Paul are very significant for us: “The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.… Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:19, 21, 22). Creation itself is the great womb of God in which all sentient being are gestating (evolving) unto the point of delivery (birth) into the Infinite Consciousness as liberated Sons of God.

Moving the mountain

The mountain will move when the Sons of God tell it to, because they are one with the mountain. In this verse, as well as in similar ones in the Bible, a mountain is any obstacle to spiritual life and progress. It is literal, too, because I have seen Dur Mountain in Cairo which moved several miles at the command of a Coptic Orthodox saint, a simple shoemaker. (After it had moved some miles he called out: “Dur!” which means “Stop!” So it is called Dur Mountain.) Anyone can see from the strata of the mountain that it is sitting in a place not native to it. If you go to its point of origin you see that the strata fit perfectly like pieces of a puzzle. No geologist can honestly deny the fact that the mountain is now sitting miles from its original location.

The vistas opened to us by Jesus have no boundaries except those we set ourselves.

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Jesus Speaks of Meditation, Part 2

Jesus Meditating with OMA Continuation of Jesus Speaks of Meditation: Wisdom from the Aquarian Gospel
In Eastern Christianity, meditation is called Hesychia–a Greek word meaning Silence. A monastery is often called a hesychasterion, a place of silence. Regarding meditation, Jesus tells the magian:

“The Silence is the kingdom of the soul, which is not seen by human eyes. When in the Silence, phantom forms may flit before the mind; but they are all subservient to the will; the master soul may speak and they are gone” (Aquarian Gospel 40:10, 11).

Now this is very important. By saying: “The Silence is the kingdom of the soul,” Jesus indicates that meditation is not really a practice in the sense of a mechanical methodology that is intended to produce a result, such as turning a key in a lock. Rather, meditation is spiritual experience itself. Meditation is experiencing Spirit–not a means or a process that hopefully will produce in time the result we want. No. Right from the beginning we are experiencing God. That experience may be so faint or so subtle that we do not even realize it. We may consider that we are only feeling peaceful, happier, or more clear in our mind, but it is not our mind we are experiencing but our pure spirit which, as it is rooted in God, is also the experiencing of God.

Certainly our perception is limited, like looking at the vast ocean through a tiny porthole, but we are nonetheless “meeting” God, and by continually entering into meditation we enlarge the scope of our perception and “see” more and more of that which, as Jesus says, is beyond the scope of human perception. But we are not human–we are divine, and such experience is natural and normal for us. It is absolutely necessary for us to grasp this. In our yoga practice we need not–must not–be straining and stressing.

Buddha said: “Turn around, and–lo! The other shore!” Jesus continually exhorted people to Turn Around–not “repent” as it is absurdly translated. The Greek word metanoeo, is a compound of two words: meta, which means “around” or “across,” and noieo, which means “to use/exercise the mind.” In other words: “Turn your mind around” or “Transfer your mind across,” mind in this instance being both the instrument of consciousness and our consciousness itself.

Jesus is not speaking of just everything that is called meditation. He has a very specific practice in mind: that which is centered in invocation of the Divine Word (Om). For it is the Divine Word that dispels the “phantom forms” that “may flit before the mind” during meditation.

The expression “master soul” does not mean some rare, skilled meditator, but any intelligent human being/soul that speaks the Word. For we are not weak and helpless mortals, we are gods, made in the image of God. “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalms 82:6). “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him” (Genesis 1:27).

The power of The Word is ours–we need only discover that. We will be looking a great deal at this subject of The Word, but now we need to continue with Jesus’ general observations on meditation itself.

Preparation for meditation

A sure sign of a genuine spiritual aspirant–in contrast with a window-shopping dabbler–is their immediately asking: “What do I have to do?” And they mean this is the sense of wanting to know how they can qualify themselves for spiritual life. They do not just walk up and say: “Gimme,” they know they have to prepare themselves. Meditation especially requires preparation. For although it is the most natural thing, we have so schooled and distorted ourselves to unnatural ways that there must be some undoing before we can take up the real doing.

Only yesterday I downloaded a long book about yoga, which had a great deal about how wrong it was to make people think they had to prepare themselves to be yogis, and how awful it was to believe that Patanjali meant it when he said that moral observances and purificatory disciplines were the first step to being a yogi. That nonsense may sound nice to the pop-yoga crowd, but a really awakened soul knows better. Jesus was speaking to an awakened man, so he continues:

“If you would find this Silence of the soul you must yourself prepare the way. None but the pure in heart may enter here. And you must lay aside all tenseness of the mind, all business cares, all fears, all doubts and troubled thoughts. Your human will must be absorbed by the divine; then you will come into a consciousness of holiness” (Aquarian Gospel 40:12-14).

You must yourself prepare the way. There must be preparation, and it must be done by us–not by God, or “guru’s grace,” or some other factor, such as passively “being ready.” When we first enter into relative existence we do evolve passively, pushed onward from within and without by factors of which we are mostly unconscious, but the time comes when that phase is over and we must consciously, intelligently, and willfully take charge of our further development. Depending on any thing or person other than ourselves must come to an end. All the past foolishness of “surrender” and “letting go” must be cast aside like the soul-killing trash it really is. We must stand up like conscious, responsible beings with a living awareness of the eternal truth, THOU ART THAT, and start manifesting it. No excuse-making, no false humility which is really only evasion of responsibility, and certainly no “God will do it all for me,” or the much worse: “All I need to do is love.” These poisonous, cowardly, and spirit-denying lies must be annihilated from our consciousness forever–by us. In spiritual life we are like God: one, only, and without a second.

None but the pure in heart may enter here. There is no entry into the meditation that is the experience of the Self without purification on all levels of every aspect of our life. In the regular four Gospels, the word for “pure” is katharos. This word has three distinct meanings: clean; clear; and without any admixture. Our life, our total being, must be free from negativity in any form. We must also be absolutely clear–no cloudiness of consciousness, intent, or will. There also cannot be in us even a particle of an atom of that which is not our Self, our spirit. Not a speck of delusion, illusion, or distortion can lodge in our entire being.

In his first epistle, the Beloved Apostle John uses the phrase “as he is” five times. In each instance “he” refers to God–not just Jesus. So the ideal is of the highest. He tells us that we must “walk [live] in the light, as he is in the light” (I John 1:7). If we do so, “we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). Yet, to do this, we must purify ourselves, “even as he is pure” (I John 3:3). This is necessary, for “he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (I John 3:7). Those who follow this ideal can then say: “As he is, so are we in this world” (I John 4:17). What an ideal! There is no place in this for the “poor miserable sinner” attitude, nor for a “sinner saved by grace” idea. Instead, Saint John says to us: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God” (I John 3:2). Hence he calls upon us with confidence to demonstrate this glorious truth.

You must lay aside…. Indeed we must. We must lay aside everything that is cluttering up our life and blinding us to realities and Reality. As Saint Paul says: “Let us lay aside every weight, and…run…the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). The list of “lay asides” is incredibly long, but Jesus cites five things: “all tenseness of the mind, all business cares, all fears, all doubts and troubled thoughts.” When we do that, we will be well on the way.

Your human will must be absorbed by the divine. Our petty, little egoic will that is nothing more than a bundle of foolish “wants,” must become our true spiritual will, the eternal will of our eternal Self–and thus the Eternal Will of God. This is a very active, a very positive, thing–not a passive giving up or becoming numb and indifferent. We must transform our human will into the divine will–the will of our divine Self.

Then you will come into a consciousness of holiness–the “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). For God is holiness itself. Jesus assures us that when we have prepared ourselves we will enter into the very Consciousness of God. As I said before, we will not be able right away to encompass the fulness, the infinity, of that Consciousness, but It will Itself begin to expand our capacity until we shall do so.

Seeing that such attainments lie before us, why would we even consider remaining any longer running in the cruel hamster-wheel of ordinary life and consciousness? As Swami Vivekananda loved to say to his hearers: “Awake, arise, and stop not until the goal is reached!”

Read How to Meditate for more on inner silence.

Further Reading:
The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, the text
The Aquarian Gospel for Awakening, a Commentary on the Aquarian Gospel

Beyond Theory and Belief to Actual Experience

In this week’s podcast, Abbot George Burke speaks of the necessity of experience in spiritual life, and the fact that too often mere theory is Swami Vivekanandaoffered as a substitute.

The talk is from a satsang in which he comments on the preface to Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekananda’s analysis of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. He gives living examples of those who miss the mark, and those who get it right.

Listen to Beyond Theory and Belief to Actual Experience here if you do not see the audio player.

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Jesus Speaks of Meditation, Part 1

Jesus Meditating in the ForestWisdom from the Aquarian Gospel

“And Jesus said, There is a Silence where the soul may meet its God, and there the fount of wisdom is, and all who enter are immersed in light, and filled with wisdom, love and power” (Aquarian Gospel 40:3).

The Silence

There is a Silence. Everything is consciousness: when consciousness moves we call it energy and matter, but when it is still we call it spirit. Only in the Silence will Spirit be perceived–everything else is noise and ultimately unreal.

There are three references in the Bible to mystical experience involving the Silence Jesus speaks about:

“The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20). “The earth” is all material consciousness and the instruments of its perception and function. Only “heaven” should open in our consciousness and be entered, for Heaven and Silence/Spirit are the same thing in the highest level of mystical thought.

“Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation” (Zechariah 2:13). “The flesh” is material consciousness which is silenced when Spirit is exalted within us–for we are temples of God (I Corinthians 3:16; 6:19).

“When he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven” (Revelation 8:1). When the consciousness ascends to the seventh level of consciousness–which in the human complex is located in the Thousand-petalled Lotus or Sahasrara Chakra, corresponding to the brain–the divine Silence prevails.

Where the soul may meet its God. There alone God is “met” for God is the Silence into which the yogi enters.

There the fount of wisdom is. Only in Silence is the Word of Eternal Wisdom known from which flows all knowing.

All who enter are immersed in light. For “God is light” (I John 1:5), “the light of the living” (Psalms 56:13), and “the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light” (Isaiah 60:19), “for God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6), who has taught us about that Light, being himself the living embodiment of that Light.

And filled with wisdom, love and power–all of which are manifestations of the Divine Presence in us, that Presence, the Silence, and the Light being the One: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

A wise query

“The magus said, Tell me about this Silence and this light, that I may go and there abide” (Aquarian Gospel 40:4).

The magian is not without good spiritual sense. Unlike so many “seekers” who simply want to get a little buzz to brag about later, or to loot God and come away to their own and others’ admiration, he understands what divine experience is intended to produce. He wisely seeks to abide in God permanently. For him the quest of God is not a trip to the beach for a little bit of paddling in the water only to go back to the dry land mistakenly called “home.” He wants to merge in the ocean and remain in its depths forever. Because of this, Jesus freely speaks to him of spiritual realities.


“And Jesus said, The Silence is not circumscribed; is not a place closed in with wall, or rocky steeps, nor guarded by the sword of man. Men carry with them all the time the secret place where they might meet their God. It matters not where men abide, on mountain top, in deepest vale, in marts of trade, or in the quiet home; they may at once, at any time, fling wide the door, and find the Silence, find the house of God; it is within the soul” (Aquarian Gospel 40:5-7).

We need not go to some place, thinking that only there we will find perfect conditions for interior life and meditation. Rather, we carry right within us the ideal place for spiritual opening: our own spirit, our true Self. “For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

In the Gospel of Matthew (6:6) Jesus speaks of our inner consciousness as a “closet.” “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” The Greek word tameion means an inner room of a house where valuables were kept and people went to be totally alone. He tells us to shut the “door” of the mind and the senses and be “alone” with God, perceiving Him alone in the depths of meditation. Later in the Aquarian Gospel we will find these words: “But when you pray, go to the closet of your soul; close all the doors, and in the holy silence, pray.” (Aquarian Gospel 94:5)


“One may not be so much disturbed by noise of business, and the words and thoughts of men if he goes all alone into the valley or the mountain pass. And when life’s heavy load is pressing hard, it is far better to go out and seek a quiet place to pray and meditate” (Aquarian Gospel 40:8, 9).

Sri RamakrishnaEven though “the secret place” is always with(in) us, yet it helps to have a good environment. A special meditation room or place is extremely helpful. But it is also good to occasionally go to a place that is outwardly solitary, as well. Here is what Sri Ramakrishna had to say about it:

“The mind does not turn to God if one is immersed day and night in the world and practical affairs. It is very necessary now and then to retire into solitude and think of him. In the beginning it is very difficult to keep the mind on God without retiring into solitude.

“When a plant is young it is necessary to put a fence round it. Without a fence it is eaten up by goats and cows. To meditate you should withdraw yourself within or retire to a secluded spot or into the forest and always discriminate between the real and the unreal. God alone is truth; namely, the reality, and all the rest is unreal and transitory. Discriminating in this manner renounce the transient things from the mind.

“…to acquire the love of God it is necessary to retire into solitude. To churn butter milk has to be set in a quiet place to curdle. Milk won’t turn into curd if it is shaken off and on. Next, sitting in a quiet place and leaving aside all work the curd has to be churned. Then alone you get butter.

“And notice also that this very mind acquires knowledge, dispassion and devotion by dwelling on God in solitude.…

“The world is water and the mind is like milk. If you pour milk into water they get mixed and you cannot find pure milk anymore. If you churn butter after turning milk into curd and put it in water it will float. So first churn the butter of knowledge and devotion by following spiritual practices in solitude. That butter will never mix. Even if you put it in the water of the world it will float.”

Mahendranath Gupta (“M”), the recorder of these words, followed this counsel all his life. He had several rented rooms around Calcutta where he would withdraw frequently and practice meditation in solitude. Think of that–right in crowded and noisy Calcutta! But each must do as he can, and his circumstances did not allow him to go far away for his solitude. To see the results he gained from following Sri Ramakrishna’s advice, read the ninth chapter of Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi: “The Blissful Devotee and His Cosmic Romance.”

Throughout the Gospels we find that Jesus regularly would go into solitude–just as did Buddha.

Further Reading:
The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, the text
The Aquarian Gospel for Awakening, a Commentary on the Aquarian Gospel

Learn more about meditation: Om Yoga at a Glance

Remembering Sivananda, To Be Improved

Swami Sivananda and DisciplesAbbot George concludes this three-part podcast of reminiscences about Swami Sivananda with some stories about disciples of Sivananda and other devotees whom he saw become utterly transformed — testimonies both to the power of satsang and the power of yoga.

Due to some problems with this Podcast, it has been deleted for the time being. Abbot George will be redoing this talk, focusing on the transformation of spiritual aspirants he has known.

You can still listen to the previous episodes of this series. Listen to Remembering Sivananda, Part 1 and Remembering Sivananda, Part 2.

What Happens to the Yogi in Samadhi?

dawning of the spiritual lightSutras 49 through 51 of Book One of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

  • Sutra 49. The knowledge based on inference or testimony is different from direct knowledge obtained in the higher states of consciousness (I-48) because it is confined to a particular object (or aspect).

That is, such knowledge is only relative and limited to one object at a time, whereas the knowing in samadhi is absolute, unlimited, and all-inclusive, for Brahman is described as “That which when known, all becomes known.”

  • Sutra 50. The impression produced by it (Sabija Samadhi) stands in the way of other impressions.

Vyasa explains this perfectly, saying: “The samskara produced by truth-bearing knowledge removes the accumulated deposit of samskaras of extraversion. When the extravertive samskaras are overcome, no ideas arising from them appear. With inhibition of extravertive ideas, samadhi becomes habitual. Then there is knowledge from that samadhi; from that, more samskaras are laid down of knowledge, and so a fresh deposit of samskaras is built up. From that again knowledge, and from that more samskaras of it.” Shankara expands on this, commenting: ”Knowledge must set up a samskara. Each time the knowledge is renewed, its special samskara is reinforced. But the renewal of the knowledge is from again taking up meditation on the object, different from itself. It can do this because it is produced by a different object, namely the thing as it really is [yathartha].”

The samskaras produced by sabija samadhi erase the samskaras of ignorance. Vyasa explains this, continuing: “Why would not this new accumulation of samskaras draw the mind into involvement with it? It is because samskaras of knowledge cause the destruction of the taints [kleshas], and so do not constitute anything that would involve the mind. In fact they make the mind cease its activity, for the exertions of mind come to an end in knowledge [khyati].”

This may seem technical, but it is an absolutely practical analysis, for Patanjali intends for us to compare what he says with our meditation experiences and thereby know whether or not we are truly progressing toward enlightenment. In the same way the Bhagavad Gita describes the state of mind of a liberated person in such a way that only the yogi can know whether or not he is in that state. No one can cite the Gita to prove to others that he is liberated–he alone can know the truth of the matter. Both the Gita and the Yoga Darshan are practical manuals of higher consciousness.

  • Sutra 51. On suppression of even that owing to suppression of all (modifications of the mind) ‘Seedless’ [nirbija] Samadhi (is attained).

From sabija samadhi the yogi passes on to nirbija samadhi, the final step in the liberation of his consciousness. This produces no samskaras and dissolves the samskaras accumulated from sabija samadhi. Vyasa: “Thus the samskaras do not cause the mind to continue to exist, but prevent its involvement with anything. The mind, no longer involved, ceased to exists, along with the samskaras which have promoted release. When mind ceases, Purusha abides in his own nature alone, and is therefore called pure, alone, and released.”

The section on samadhi (samadhi pada) is now completed.

Next Wednesday we will post the last of three podcasts by Abbot George Burke about his memories of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, founder of the Divine Life Society and Sivanandashram. Stay tuned! In this podcast, Abbot George tells some stories about disciples of Sivananda and other devotees whom he saw become utterly transformed — testimonies both to the power of satsang and the power of yoga.

Click here to listen to the podcasts Remembering Sivananda, Part 1, and Remembering Sivananda, Part 2

Remembering Sivananda, Podcast Part 2

Sivananda laughingDuring his first trip to India in 1962 Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri) was blessed to spend time with the great Swami Sivananda at his ashram in Rishikesh. In this three-part podcast Abbot George shares his memories of this saint with visitors to our ashram.

Among the many saints that Abbot George met in India, he described Sivananda as “beyond description or classification. He loved and we loved in return.” In this second podcast Abbot George relates how Sivananda shared this love through his wisdom and humor, and tells Sivananda’s one prescription for successful sadhana.

Episode length: 10 minutes, 30 seconds.

(If you don’t see an audio player, click this link to listen to Remembering Sivananda, Part 2.)

Click here to listen to the podcast Remembering Sivananda, Part 1.

The Mystical Outlook of Original Christianity

Virgin OransA Commentary on the Odes of Solomon. The Odes are the earliest known Christian mystical hymns and poetry (discover more).

Behold! the Lord is our mirror. Open (your) eyes and see them in Him.
And learn the manner of your face, and declare praises to His Spirit.
And wipe off the filth from your face, and love His holiness and clothe yourselves therewith.
And you will be without stain at all times with Him.
(Ode of Solomon 13)

  • Behold! the Lord is our mirror. Open (your) eyes and see them in Him.

Here we see how incredibly far contemporary Christianity has drifted from Original Christianity, which was a firmly non-dual philosophy rooted in the enlightened consciousness of the Indian sages with whom Jesus lived for over half of his life. It would seem that today the more “Christian” a person is, the less they have to do with the real Christ and his teachings.

Normally we think that the illumined mystic sees through or into the world around him and sees God. But the Isha Upanishad opens with the words: “All this–whatever exists in this changing universe–should be covered by the Lord.” That is, we should be seeing God first and the world only secondarily. Instead of God being seen inside the world of matter, we should be seeing God as pervading the world and filling all space. Further, since we are eternally one with God, in him we see our true Self. We reflect him and he reflects us in perfect unity. If we see anything outside God it is unreal. Only when we open our spiritual eyes in God will we see things as they are.

  • And learn the manner of your face, and declare praises to His Spirit.

When we see divinity we see the reality of humanity, and see that our face is Brahmamayi–formed of God. Then we can really praise God–not as some mighty universal potentate, but as Infinite Consciousness, Infinite Spirit of which we are an integral and inseparable part.

  • And wipe off the filth from your face, and love His holiness and clothe yourselves therewith.

We must remove all vestiges of relative, illusory existence from the face of our mind and clothe ourselves with the holiness that is God. Saint Paul was referring to this mystical reality when he wrote: “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

  • And you will be without stain at all times with Him.

Awake in God we will be perpetually pure with his purity. Saint John therefore said: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:2,3). There is no place here for the “poor miserable sinner” attitude of corrupted Christianity. “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalms 82:6), is the true Gospel of Christ–of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Find out more about the Odes of Solomon.

This Wednesday we will post the second of three audio podcasts by Abbot George Burke on his memories of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh during his visit to India in 1962. In this second podcast Abbot George relates how Sivananda shared this love through his wisdom and humor, and tells Sivananda’s one prescription for successful sadhana.

Those who have not listened to the first podcast can listen to Remembering Sivananda, Part 1 here.

Podcast: Remembering Sivananda, Part 1

With this post, we begin our new Podcast section, which will be added to on a regular basis.

These will be talks on meditation, practical aspects of spiritual life, memories of remarkable spiritual figures Abbot George has met, and much more.

Abbot George BurkeSwami SivanandaDuring his first trip to India in 1962 Abbot George Burke was blessed to spend time with the great Swami Sivananda at his ashram in Rishikesh. In this three-part podcast Abbot George shares his memories of this saint with visitors to our ashram.

In this first podcast, Abbot George recalls his first meetings with Swami Sivananda, and the saint’s invitation to dine with him on a lunch of “plain boiled rice.”

Episode length: 12 minutes, 18 seconds.

(If you don’t see an audio player, click this link to listen to Remembering Sivananda, Part 1.

Listen to the second podcast in this series, Remembering Sivananda, Part 2.

Dawning of the Spiritual Light

dawning of the spiritual lightSutras 47 and 48 of Book One of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

  • 47. On attaining the utmost purity of the Nirvichara stage (of Samadhi) there is the dawning of the spiritual light [adhyatma prasadah].

In contrast to the samadhi spoken of in the prior sutra, nirvichara samadha is nirbija: “without seed,” without attributes and without the production of samskaras or subtle karmas. Nirbija samadhi is nirvikalpa samadhi wherein the seeds of samskaras or karmas are destroyed (“fried” or “roasted”) by Jnana, and which produces no samskaras or karmas.

When the utmost purity (shuddha sattwa) of the buddhi is attained, then even pradhana in its highest form is transcended and the light of the Self is perceived.

  • 48. There, the consciousness [prajna] is Truth-and Right-bearing [ritambhara].

According to A Brief Sanskrit Glossary, Ritam is “Truth; Law; Right; Order. The natural order of things, or Cosmic Order/Law. Its root is ri, which means ‘to rise, to tend upward.’”

When a yogi reaches the nirvichara stage his consciousness henceforward reflects the divine order and is oriented solely toward ultimate Reality. Therefore Vyasa comments:

“The knowledge which appears in that clearness of the mind in samadhi has the special name of Truth-bearing in the literal sense that it brings truth alone, and there is no trace of erroneous knowledge in it. So it is said: ‘By scriptural authority, by inference, and by enthusiasm for meditation practice–in thee three ways perfecting his knowledge, he attains the highest yoga.’”

Shankara says that the consciousness spoken of in this sutra is born from viveka (discrimination between reality and unreality).

Patanjali’s standards must be applied to us first of all, but also to any who claim to have realization of the Truth (Sat).

Previously: What Happens to the Yogi in Samadhi?
Next: The Final Stages of Samadhi

Coming Next Week:

Next week we will initiate Podcasts at We will begin with a series of three podcasts by Abbot George Burke about his memories of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, founder of the Divine Life Society and Sivanandashram. Stay tuned!