A star (*) flags references and notes are at the end of the blog for additional information.
Meditation as a secular process is called TM (transcendental meditation)*. Historically its origin is in Vedic teachings. One ancient method is PDM (Preksa Dhyana Meditation)*. My previous blog (0620 0708 2011) offered these methods for body and mind tune-up.
TM is used by psychiatrists and psychologist to treat patients with certain psychological problems* as well as for relaxation by executives and average persons from many walks of life. Some school districts including San Francisco teach TM – quite time – in elementary schools to calm down hyperactive kids. In the US various yoga and meditation work shop are offered.
Daily meditation for about 30 minutes helps tune body and mind. A well tuned body and mind serves important functions, including:
- In short term, it helps mind relieve stress to stay focused on task(s) at hand and suppress distractions caused by unproductive scattered thoughts cluttering mind.
- For long term, it prevents stress induced damage to health, improves health and elevates consciousness to the highest levels. Rarely, it potentially can lead to experiencing ultimate truth as Gautama Buddha, Vedic Rishies and Indian sages did ages ago for union with the supreme power – God.
- For most persons, up-lifting of consciousness coupled with scientific inquiry helps answer doubts and some fundamental questions.
Regular meditation practice offers many benefits. Meditation with science linked to knowledge yoga can answer some fundamental question*.
This blog also discusses meditation related Vedic teachings, elements of Vedic science, potential impact of modern science on religion and related issues.
- Two topics, “Vedic Hymns Based Transcendence Session” and “Learning Transcendence Using a Personal Computer” in a previous blog (2011) discussed details for a Vedic meditation process. A five parts series, “Introduction to Hinduism” (2009) may help those interested in comparative religious studies. Meditation is a part of teachings of Gita.
- In Vedic traditions science and religion coexists. Scientific skeptics propel intellectual inquiry. The Vedic traditions are dynamic as believers are free to discard what is inconsistent with science.
- Vedic teachings for believers may offer satisfactory answers to two fundamental questions:
- What is the purpose of life?
- What am I doing here?
- Advances in physics offer a better understanding of the potent force that governs body with limitations of birth and death as well as functioning of body, mind, and soul. Science offers reasonable answers to two fundamental questions:
- What is life?
- Who am I?
- In a book Norman Rosenthal (2011) uses more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific studies to identify many health benefits such as improving body’s hormone balance.
- The modern research is providing a scientific foundation for our understanding of meditation for tuning body and mind as well as for improved treatments for psychological health issues.
The following topics are covered in this blog.
- Knowledge Yoga
- The Gayatri Mantra
- Elements of Vedic Science
- Yuga beliefs and Evolution
- Religion and Modern Science
- Fundamental Questions
- Who Am I?
- Purpose of Life
Jnana (knowledge) Yoga (study, training) literally means training for knowledge. PDM (Preksa Dhyana Meditation) is an ancient Jainism system or source for training of Jnana yoga. Like Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism Jainism is a Vedic sect. PDM, yoga and Transcendental Meditation or TM are different names of same discipline or process originally developed by Vedic Rishies (Priests) more than three thousand years ago.
Knowledge Yoga is a Vedic discipline of daily lifelong study and a system of do-it-yourself continuous training for personal empowerment with knowledge. Yoga is for training consciousness and mind in pursuit of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility. Universally, the TM and yoga are secular systems of exercises and practices that promote molding or disciplining the body and mind for better health and to elevate consciousness.
The Gayatri Mantra
The Vedic origin secular Gayatri hymn can be used in meditation to transcendent from a lower to highest consciousness. It is for meditating on the Transcendental Glory of the Powerful Force – God. Unlike humans God is one and infinite and free of limitations such as birth and death.
Vedic people lacked modern digital and analog printing and communications technology for record keeping as well as for lack of access to latest advances in physics and medical sciences. Vedic people stored the knowledge considered truths as hymns and recited it daily or regularly to transfer it from generations to generations. The Gayatri mantra (5,000+ years old) sums up relationship between the potent force that governs life and the ultimate reality or the supreme power of universe – God.
For believers the Gayatri mantra is one of the most ancient sacred and powerful hymns to meditate upon. The hymn along with translation is presented below to assist transcendenting the experience of suffering.
|Ombhur bhuvah svahtat savitur varenyambhargo devasya dhimahidhiyo yonah prachodayat||We meditate on transcendental Glory of the powerful forceThe ultimate reality; the supreme power of universe that is lifeWithin our hearts, within earth, within universe, and within soulMay He stimulate and illuminate our minds.|
The hymns in Sanskrit like those in Latin need not be understood to recite for meditation. Gayatri hymn is secular and to learn to properly recite it the following UTube links may help.
- #1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl_ExU46KXE&feature=related (9 min) or
- #2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDnamSM3Z3s&feature=related (8:28 min)
Elements of Vedic Science
As Vedic ancestors did Hindus do believe and preach that in life knowledge is power. Vedic society and culture encouraged daily practice of yoga for tuning body and mind, cultivating virtuous habits and character building. Typical virtuous lifestyles include developing an informed mind, take personal responsibility, self-reliance and to be accountable for personal choices. The virtuous habits essentially are moral and ethical codes for living.
The origin of Vedic people may be as old as that of settlers of the Fertile Crescent region. In the Fertile Crescent region 8,000 – 9,000 years ago the hunters and gatherers gradually settled to establish agrarian tribal societies and culture.* The Semitic Jews and Arabs are descendents of these tribal cultures and societies.
Vedic scientists studied astronomy, cosmology and developed empirical relationships to assist an agrarian society and culture on the Indian subcontinent. Vedic historians developed the Yuga (yu.ga) theory or philosophy. Yuga in Hindu philosophy is the name of an ‘epoch’ or ‘era’ within a cycle of four ages. These are the Satya Yuga, the Treta Yuga, the Dvapara Yuga, and finally the Kali Yuga*.
According to Hindu cosmology, life in the universe is created and destroyed once every 4.1 to 8.2 billion years, which is a 24-hour day for Brahma or one cycle for universe. The lifetime of Brahma was estimated to be 311 trillion and 40 billion years.
The cycles are said to repeat like the seasons, waxing and waning within a greater time-cycle of the creation and destruction of the universe. Like summer, spring, winter and autumn, each Yuga involves stages or gradual changes that the earth and the consciousness of mankind go through as a whole. A complete Yuga cycle from a high Golden Age of enlightenment to a Dark Age and back again is said to be caused by the solar system’s motion around another star.
Yuga beliefs and Evolution
Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far removed as possible from God. Theory of evolution appears to contradict Hindu belief that man is a degeneration of what he was. The reconciliation of the conflict between Hindu beliefs and modern scientific research, however, is doable and not difficult.
Both Hindus and modern sciences have wave theories. Hindu theory of cycles described above states all progression is in the form of waves with peaks and valleys. The motion is in cycles. Modern science – quantum theory of matter, etc – is based on another wave theory.
Evolution presupposes involution. Something cannot be produced out of nothing. Man is constantly evolving from a (biological) cell, the smallest living material with DNA genes onwards. Humans come in all varieties, from aboriginals to geniuses – the Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Einstein, and Gandhi, etc to name a few. Where do the gigantic personalities come from?
If something cannot come out of nothing then every evolution is preceded by involution. Similarly all humans including gigantic personalities also are representation of evolution; they evolve from a lowest to the highest forms. Unlike a few geniuses, all other humans have evolved into average persons and all are genetically coded differently. Laws of statistics apply to permutations and combinations of genes represented by each living being. Only certain rare genetic combinations are responsible for gigantic personalities.
With a genetic pairing of male and female chromosomes (genes or DNA) an egg is fertilized and a soul is incorporated for the conception to take place in the womb. The conception develops into a fetus with unique genetic characteristics. For about nine months and nine day’s mother supplies food to the fertilized egg, fetus
and developing child before birth.
Soul like God is free of limitations of birth and death. Soul – the force – appears at conception and escapes body at death but it is never destroyed. As long as fertilized egg and the resulting body continue to digest food into energy, a part of it is channeled for functions of soul. Each child is naturally coded with unique genetic materials. Genetic materials produce energy to empower soul that according to believers is a part of the universal energy or ultimate reality – God.
Food (matter) is fuel for sustaining life. In the exothermic metabolic processes activated by bile acids and catalytic enzymes food and air (oxygen, breathing) combines within body to release energy for manifestation of motion (animate world) and also producing molecules needed to build and repair body and govern actions of mind.* Some of the molecules are genetic materials, which from sexually active couples upon pairing in the womb starts a new life. Evolution continues and goes on.
Religion and Modern Science
Einstein’s theory of Relativity and empirical relationship E = mc2 relates two variables – energy (E) and matter (m) – through speed of light (c), which is constant. Speed of light is measured relative to its point of origin – Sun. Einstein’s relationship states that energy and mass are inter convertible; conversion is proportional if measured relative to speed of light.
Religious and scientific philosophers and scholar’s debate if the body material is result of the manifestation of the potent forces called soul and thoughts. It boils down to chicken or egg first issues.
- The religions of the world hold that thoughts manifest the body and not the reverse.
- Modern scientists argue that thoughts and energy force called soul are produced by body through chemical and physical combinations of matter within body and brain.
The force is the same within body generating genetic materials for physical fertilization of egg to form a new body or that which manifests thought and soul. The body materials, thoughts and soul are variations of the same force, the ultimate reality. Solids are visible forms, and thought and soul are invisible forms of same energy force.
In physical world the force is also the energy we use everyday in any number of applications. We witness solar light or its products (heat, pressure, etc). These energy sources are needed for transforming matter into the animal (animate world) and vegetable (inanimate world of trees, crops and other vegetations) kingdoms. Conversion of vegetation (inanimate matter) with forces of pressure and heat into various visible (solid and liquid) and invisible (natural gas) forms of fossil fuels (energy) is a physically possible and a reality.
Fossil fuels are burned to generate invisible (horse) power or force that operates all transportation, electrical and electronic devices. Hydroelectric power is an example of gravitational force converted by water falls through generators. Power can be stored in batteries for various applications and power is transported through wires from the point of generated to points of consumption. Potential energy is every where and channeling energy for a variety of useful applications is a human enterprise.
Converting solar light to heat and power at affordable prices is the state-of-the art technology for producing alternate energy or power sources.* At a virtual school called INDUSAPTI manuals and lesson plans for practical technologies for captive power generations are available.*
The completion of the improved supply of oxygen rich blood to cerebral cortex is preparation* to find answers for fundamental questions from the bottom of heart, while listening to heart beats.
- Prepare for deep breathing by completely exhaling lungs. Each deep breath cycle of inhalation followed by exhalations should take up to 40+ sec/ breath.
- To begin, close right nostril with right hand thumb to slowly start inhaling – starting at or below belly-button to groin area. Once lungs are full of air, switch closing left nostril with two fingers of right hand and slowly exhale taking same time as for inhaling to complete one deep breathing cycle.
- Repeat the breathing exercise 10 – 11 times to complete supply of oxygenated blood to cerebral cortex.
Return to normal breathing and with focused attention start listening to heart beats. Once you hear heart beat ask four questions.
- What is life?
- Who am I?
- What is purpose of life and
- What am I doing hear.
Answers based on Vedic teachings and modern sciences for four questions appeared in above discussion of previous topics.
To sum up, life is a body (home of) the potent force, the spirit. Body is with and spirit is without limitation of birth and death.
I am such body with spirit – a potent force.
Body as long as individual is living incorporates spirit that like God is without limitations. As long as body is breathing it is living with spirit. Spirit escapes body once body stops breathing.
God and spirit are one and infinite, without any limitations. The ultimate truth that Swami Vivekananda calls a Real Man is one and infinite; it is ultimate truth, God and it is without limitations experienced by individuals called apparent men.
Purpose of Life
Vedic ancestors suggested that the purpose of life was to live a virtuous life and as a believer in teachings of Vedic ancestors I strive to live a virtuous life serving my fellow beings in following order.
- My first priority is to take care of myself – self reliant, taking responsibility for choices I make.
- Next priority is to similarly take care of my immediate family – wife and children
- Third priority is to take care of all those – my extended family and gurus, who guided me during my formative years to become who I am
- Last but one priority is to serve community in my immediate environment and
- Finally extend a helping hand internationally to all in need of help.
References and notes
- Kishan Bhatia, “Transcendence Fueled Positive Thinking,” 0620 0708 2011; (3,828 words) at http://www.indiacause.com/blog/2011/07/08/transcendence-fueled-positive-thinking/
- Norman Rosenthal, M.D., “Transcendence” (2011) studied 300+ peer reviewed research studies to explore medical benefits of meditation describes as well as using TM for treating patients with psychological problems. He declared that Transcendental Meditation and TM are protected trademarks licensed to MFUSA, a nonprofit educational organization.
- Swami Vivekananda, “Jnana Yoga – The Yoga of Knowledge,” Advaita Ashram, Kolkata (India); 29th edition (2009).
- God is variously described by philosophers and religious scholars. Swami Vivekananda considered God to be the Real Man. Others have equated Him to the Spirit, soul, ultimate truth, ultimate reality and supernatural power, etc. God and Spirit is one and infinite. Swami Vivekananda called humans apparent men, however great, as they are bound by the limitation of birth and death.
- The apparent men have body, mind and soul or atman. The gigantic personalities including Vedic Rishies (priests), Buddha, Jain, Jesus, Einstein and Gandhi to name a few were human as they experienced birth and death.
- I believe if Swami Vivekananda had scientific knowledge of body chemistry that takes place after intake of food he would have rephrased his comments on page 30 regarding the force which manifest through the body.
- Briefly food in the digestion process undergoes a room temperature exothermic metabolic reaction by mixing with bile acids – mostly hydrochloric acid and catalytic amounts of enzymes, etc. The exothermic reaction produces energy plus waste products. Energy is absorbed, some is stored in the body and rest is used for internal and external motions.
- A part of energy is used by brain to activate thinking processes in the mind. Mind is like a computer where information recorded by the sense organs is stored and processed. Unlike man made computers the mind has power of intuition to manipulate information to innovate. Unlike mind the man made computers can not improvise and they are only as good as its inputs and hence the common adage, “garbage in garbage out”.
- Intuition and innovation capabilities empower humans to use meditation power to answer, for example, fundamental questions mentioned in the text.
- Kishan Bhatia, Introduction to Hinduism in five parts.
- Part I of V Parts: Basic Hindu Beliefs and Scriptures, (1,399 words; 4 pages): at http://www.blogs.ivarta.com/Basic-Hindu-Beliefs-Scriptures-Part-I/blog-329.htm
- Part II of V Parts: Introduction to Gita, (2,077; 5 pages); at http://www.blogs.ivarta.com/Introduction-Gita-Part-II/blog-330.htm
- Part III of V Parts: Three Yogas Popular with Hindus, (2,147 words; 5 pages); at http://www.blogs.ivarta.com/Three-Yogas-Popular-with-Hindus/blog-333.htm
- Part IV of V Parts: Dharma and Cosmic Man, (894 words, 2 pages); at http://www.blogs.ivarta.com/Dharma-Cosmic-Man/blog-334.htm
- Part V of V Parts: Sankhya System and Guna Theory (3,887 words and 10 pages); http://www.blogs.ivarta.com/Hinduism-Sankhya-System-Guna-Theory-V/blog-336.htm
- Jain doctrine teaches that Jainism has always existed and will always exist, although historians date the foundation of the organized or present form of Jainism to sometime between the 9th and the 6th century BCE.
- Meditation and yoga are useful tools for positive thinking as well as to tune the body and mind to stay focused and to pursue the highest consciousness as well as to maintain hormone levels at equilibrium for desired optimum performance.
- Kishan Bhatia, “Heritage and Awakening,” 0812 0831 2011 (2,520 words); http://www.indiacause.com/blog/2011/08/31/heritage-and-awakening/
- Jared Diamond, “Guns, Germs, and Steel” The Faiths of Human Societies, (1999), W. W. Norton & Co, Ltd (London), ISBN: 0-393-31755-2
- Kali Yuga is associated with the apocalyptic demon Kali, not to be confused with the goddess Kālī (read as Kaalee) (these are unrelated words in the Sanskrit language). The “Kali” of Kali Yuga means “strife, discord, quarrel, or contention.”
- Sun light is a potent force and can be conserved by the bottleful to light up a dark room; see, an article, Light by the bottleful http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/article2657221.ece?homepage=true
- Light by liter translates to “Isang Litrong Liwanag” 1125 2011 in Phillippine language. Check out facts and figures at the webpage of the “Isang Litrong Liwanag” and a music video at http://isanglitrongliwanag.org/2011/10/18/isang-litrong-liwanag-a-liter-of-light-official-music-video/; Fire up the spirit of the youth with the music video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhQHy1Qm5X8.
- A practical technology to protect environment is to recycle liter plastic bottles and also to conserving energy for lighting up dark areas. Recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60 watt bulb for up to 6 hours. Try the following experiment:
- In an empty clean one liter or larger bottle place 2-3 oz Clorox per liter volume and fill it with water. Hang the bottle in the sun for sun energy to be stored. In the night of the dark or when this bottle is placed in a window less enclosed space it would deliver light equivalent to 50 – 60 watt incandescent or about 7 watt florescent bulb.
- Using a lumens measuring device the intensity of the light by the liter can be measured by children conducting a science project for light by liter.
- Kishan Bhatia, “Emerging India 1107 1120 2011,” submitted, www.indiacasue.com/blog A virtual school called INDUSAPTI (Practical Training Institute) and its pilot version is now being field tested at http://www.learningwhiledoing.in/?page_id=18
- Before we try to answer the question, an understanding of some background is helpful.
- To find satisfactory answer for the fundamental question requires a sharp mind and well tuned body. Body and mind tune-up to sharpen mind is initiated with increasing oxygen levels via blood to cerebral cortex. Deep breathing exercises help oxygenate blood and body organs. The body and mind tune-up helps generation of extra energy to activate the centers located at the tip of nose and at the bottom of spine in the groin area.
- For complete tune-up of central nervous system, energy wave are generated every few seconds for a few minutes and transmitted from tip of nose via entire cerebral cortex to top of spine for travel along spinal cord to sideways to arms and down to groin area. At the bottom of spine the transmitted wave is supplemented with additional energy by activation of the center of energy for transmission via sciatic nerves to toes. The meditation accompanied by simultaneous mental recitation of the secret hymn is likely to experiencing transcendental moments. Perfect meditation requires all muscles relaxed and mind cleared of all thoughts.
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