Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Rudolf II of Habsburg. Emperor and alchemist

His name has always been associated with magic and mystery, but also with pursuit of knowledge and tolerance. His work and his mind have marked a city and an era which is still remembered today, exactly 400 years after his death.
Rudolf II of Habsburg was born in Vienna at 18:45 on July 18th 1552, third son of Emperor Maximilian II and Mary of Spain. His grandfather Charles V had been the absolute monarch of the largest Empire ever: an endless territory that extended from Madrid to Vienna, from Naples to Brussels, from Prague to the distant lands of Mexico. An Empire over which, as they used to say, the sun never sets.
In 1556, when Charles V abdicated, his empire was divided in two: his son Philip II was to reign in Spain and over the possessions of Catholic Monarchs, while his brother, Ferdinand, over the Eastern part of the House of Austria. As head of the Empire, Ferdinand was succeeded by his son the Archduke Maximilian and, in turn, by his son Rudolf. The young Rudolf was educated at the Spanish court. He lived in Madrid and at El Escorial and very soon proved to have a rather complex personality. He opposed the marriage to his cousin the Infanta of Spain and never got married, therefore, did not even take advantage of the important political card of marriage. In 1571 Rudolf returned to the court of Vienna, where he was crowned first King of Hungary and Bohemia, and then in 1576, Emperor of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire. Since the very beginning, the young emperor had to deal with the religious opposition between Catholics and various Protestant denominations, but it was soon quite evident that Rudolf was more interested in arts, sciences and in the hidden and sublime secrets of nature rather than in political issues and wars of religion.  In 1582 Rudolf leaves Vienna and moves to Prague. This decision, besides other political reasons, was also determined by other factors such as the search for beauty, but above all in the esotericism and architectural charm that the esoteric Emperor Charles IV had brought to the city. With Rudolf, Prague experienced its golden age. The new capital and frontier town of the Empire, home to diverse cultures, under the Emperor’s leadership was to make great progress in science, tolerance and free thought. During his reign, spread across two eras, Emperor Rudolf II turned Prague into an ideal city by creating a favourable climate, conducive to the advancement of knowledge and circulation of ideas; a kind of heavenly Jerusalem of sciences, an established utopia that reacted vigorously against any form of decline in the areas of knowledge after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Thanks to his patronage, Rudolf made Prague the jewel case of the highest and most advanced knowledge of his time.
But there is a dark side to Rudolf’s complex and multifaceted personality: an aspect that was to earn him the ambiguous fame which, even today, his name still evokes. As a solitary individual, prone to depression, Rudolf was obsessed by the desire to know things and was ready to do anything to achieve this goal. He believed that everything we see is part of a whole and of a harmonious order. In this hidden aspect of reality, the wise, the magician and artist are basically the same thing and Alchemy is the supreme science in order to understand the ultimate secrets of nature and thus overcome the laws that govern it.
Rudolf was literally obsessed by this science and at court, all the guests that were invited by the emperor in person, found themselves among the brightest and enlightened minds of the time. In exchange for protection, magicians, alchemists, astronomers, scholars and artists helped him to achieve his goal: to search for the philosophers’ stone and elixir of immortality, the symbols of supreme knowledge. Before him, his father, the Emperor Maximilian II, had already gathered around him an elite group of historians, antique dealers, collectors and scientists. Rudolf kept much of the staff of his father’s court and was greatly involved in printing new and old books that he accumulated in large libraries such as one at the Strahov Monastery in Prague. Under his reign, the study of pharmacy and mineralogy were fostered and great advances were made in the study of the stars and their movements. Very important personalities attended Rudolf’s court, such as the likes of John Dee, the English astrologer and cabbalist, Giordano Bruno, the philosopher and populariser of the hermetic tradition, the dark magician Edward Kelley, the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe and the great mathematician and astronomer John Kepler.
Rudolf filled his Kunstkammer with objects from his most varied interests, with art collections and rare, exotic objects. Various kinds of scientific experiments were carried out at the Castle, to which the Emperor attended in person. Rudolf II was very erudite and chose his scientists very carefully, submitting them to difficult trials and – contrary to how he has been depicted today in various films or in certain type of literature – he was not easily deceived. However, thanks to his support, new astronomical instruments were invented and Kepler was able to develop the famous three laws that are at the basis of modern cosmology.
Moreover, artists such as Giuseppe Arcimboldo and many others lived in the palace thanks to the Emperor’s great passion for arts, which allowed him to gather the works of many artists into a collection which is now one of the most important for that period.
In the social field, Rudolf was able to maintain a certain stability among the social classes, which led to period of peace and order.
In matters of religion, though nominally a Catholic, he did not take part in religious persecution, but conceded – contrary to other European courts – religious freedom. This allowed him to pursue his studies and manage his court scientists and scholars. But the golden era that Prague was experiencing thanks to its emperor, who loved beauty and mystery, was destined to end soon.
Quite often these personalities, for whom the Emperor provided protection, caused a certain amount of embarrassment and led to conflicts with the Church of Rome, which suspected him of heresy, or even worse, of being a patron of necromancers. Moreover, his frequent depressions and interest in the occult sciences, together with the fact of being the grandson of Joan of Aragon known as “Joan the mad woman” and his anti-conformism, fuelled a certain amount of   speculation in Catholic circles that he was crazy and demoniac.
The imperial ambition of his brother, Matthias of Habsburg, the continuous pressure of the Vatican and the pretensions of the Protestant nobility, continually undermined the delicate balance that Rudolf was trying to maintain, and this was broken when Matthias, after taking control of Austria, Hungary and Moravia advanced with an army, backed by Spain and Rome, towards the capital of the Empire. When they triumphantly entered Prague in 1611, Rudolf was forced to abdicate and retire to his castle, where he died a year later, in 1612.
But, before giving up the Czech crown, Rudolf II, the betrayed Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and lover of the occult sciences, cast a terrible curse over Prague and the whole Czech nation:
“Prague.., ungrateful Prague, I have made thee famous and now you drive me out, me your benefactor … May you be crushed by vengeance and may damnation befall you and the entire Czech nation!”
This is what he said, and his ominous words soon revealed to be a sort of prophecy. Shortly after the seizure of power by Matthias, who proved to be unable to control and deal with the delicate situation that had arisen, conflicts between Catholics and Protestants resulted in the famous Defenestration of Prague, which gave rise to the bloody and terrible Thirty Years’ War. A War that from 1618 to 1648 tore apart the heart of Europe and left Prague at the mercy of foreign armies and the famous Battle of the White Mountain, on November 8th, 1620 when Bohemia lost its independence for 300 years.
The death of Rudolf II meant the end of an era, the Renaissance and religious tolerance. After him came a new regression of ideas, of free thought and the downfall of occult sciences.
As historian Peter Marshall wrote: “The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire died as a failing, lonely and depressed man, but together with his collaborators and lovers of Truth, had contributed to creating in Prague’s renaissance period, a cultural revolution that still continues to reverberate to this day”.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Christian Buddhist Explorations: The Rainbow Body


Featured post by Gail Holland

[This article appeared in IONS Review, No. 59, March-May 2002. Reprinted with permission of the author and the Institute of Noetic Sciences (www.noetic.org ).]

When David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, proposed investigating the “rainbow body,” a phenomenon in which the corpses of highly developed spiritual individuals reputedly vanish within days of death, he received an enthusiastic response from Marilyn Schlitz, IONS’s director of research.
Rainbow Body
In a new joint initiative with the Esalen Institute, IONS is expanding its research on “metanormal capacities”- behaviors, experiences, and bodily changes that challenge our understanding of ordinary human functioning- because they raise crucial questions about the developmental potential of human beings.
“Brother David told us that he had taken this project to various institutions and foundations looking for support,” recalls Schlitz. His intention was to corroborate these claims, and accumulate data that would not only help us understand more about the rainbow body, but also look at its broader implications. He had been told that this type of research is unacceptable within mainstream science. But, I said, “This is exactly the kind of project we’re interested in at IONS. As long as the research can be conceptualized within a rigorous critical frame, we are open to examining any and all questions that can expand our idea of what is possible as humans.”
Steindl-Rast’s own curiosity about the rainbow body began when he heard various stories of Tibetan masters who had, through their practices, reached a high degree of wisdom and compassion. It was reported to him that when they died, rainbows suddenly appeared in the sky. “And I was told that after several days their bodies disappeared. Sometimes fingernails and hair were left. Sometimes nothing was left.”
These stories made him reflect upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is central to his own faith. “We know that Jesus was a very compassionate, selfless person. When he died, according to the gospels, his body was no longer there.
In today’s world, Steindl-Rast points out, the resurrectionof Jesus Christ is interpreted differently, depending upon ones spiritual leanings. For fundamentalists, the resurrection- the act of rising from the dead- happened only to Jesus, and couldn’t happen to any other human. The minimalists, on the other hand, says Steindl-Rast, focus on Jesus’s spirit living on, and believe that the resurrection of Jesus had nothing to do with his body.
Yet, a large number of people (including himself) are open to the concept that the body, too, is significant in the spiritual realm, and that certain spiritual experiences are universal.
In 1999, he decided to explore the strange phenomenon of the rainbow body and a possible connection to the resurrection of Jesus. “I sent a fax to a friend in Switzerland, who is a Zen Buddhist teacher. I knew that many Tibetans live there, and so I asked him if he could inquire about the rainbow body. Two days later, I received a fax back stating that a Tibetan had unexpectedly approached him, and when the rainbow body was mentioned, the Tibetan said, ‘It happened to one of my teachers just recently, and a famous lama who witnessed the events wrote an account about them.’ ” At this point, Steindl-Rast contacted Father Francis Tiso, an ordained Roman Catholic priest who has not only studied ten languages, including Tibetan, but is also familiar with Tibetan culture. (Francis Tiso holds the office of Canon in the Cathedral of St Peter, Isernia, Italy, and is assigned to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, where he is parochial vicar in Mill Valley.)
“I was aware,” says Steindl-Rast, “that Father Tiso occasionally went to Tibet, so I asked him if he was planning to travel there in the near future. He told me he was leaving that very day.”
Steindl-Rast asked if he would stop in Switzerland and interview the Tibetan. Despite the short notice, Tiso took a detour to Switzerland, and thus the research journey began.
The rainbow body is a complex phenomenon that will probably take years of study. “If we can establish as an anthropological fact,” says Steindl-Rast, “that what is described in the resurrection of Jesus has not only happened to others, but is happening today, it would put our view of human potential in a completely different light.”
Recent Rainbow Body Experiences
Through his Swiss contact, Tiso received the name of the monk whose body had vanished after his death: Khenpo A-chos, a Gelugpa monk from Kham, Tibet, who died in 1998. Tiso was able to locate the village, situated in a remote area where Khenpo A-chos had his hermitage. He then went to the village and conducted taped interviews with eyewitnesses to Khenpo A-chos’ death. He also spoke to many people who had known him.
“This was a very interesting man, aside from the way he died,” observes Tiso. “Everyone mentioned his faithfulness to his vows, his purity of life, and how he often spoke of the importance of cultivating compassion. He had the ability to teach even the roughest and toughest of types how to be a little gentler, a little more mindful. To be in the man’s presence changed people.”
Tiso interviewed Lama Norta, a nephew of Khenpo Achos; Lama Sonam Gyamtso, a young disciple; and Lama A-chos, a dharma friend of the late Khenpo A-chos. They described the following:
A few days before Khenpo A-chos died, a rainbow appeared directly above his hut. After he died, there were dozens of rainbows in the sky. Khenpo A-chos died lying on his right side. He wasn’t sick; there appeared to be nothing wrong with him, and he was reciting the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM over and over. According to the eyewitnesses, after his breath stopped his flesh became kind of pinkish. One person said it turned brilliant white. All said it started to shine.
Lama A-chos suggested wrapping his friend’s body in a yellow robe, the type all Gelug monks wear. As the days passed, they maintained they could see, through the robe, that his bones and his body were shrinking. They also heard beautiful, mysterious music coming from the sky, and they smelled perfume.
After seven days, they removed the yellow cloth, and no body remained. Lama Norta and a few other individuals claimed that after his death Khenpo A-chos appeared to them in visions and dreams.
Other Rainbow Body Manifestations
Francis Tiso remarks that one of is most intriguing interviews was with Lama A-chos. He told Tiso that when he died he too would manifest the rainbow body. “He showed us two photographs taken of him in the dark, and in these photographs his body radiated rays of light.”
Because Lama A-chos emphasized that it was possible to manifest the rainbow body while still alive, not just in death, Tiso plans to return to Tibet with professional camera equipment to try to photograph this radiating light.
Other incidents of metanormal occurrences upon death are also being studied. For instance, several of Tiso’s colleagues were present for the postmortem process of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, who died eight years ago. “This man was a very large-boned individual,” says Tiso, “and it was reported that seven weeks after his death the flesh was reduced. That could have been done by chemical substances, however, the bones also shrank.”
Shrinkage of the body occurred with another guru, Lama Thubten. His miniature-sized frame is now kept in a monastery in Manali, India. Tiso has ascertained that incidents of bodies shrinking or disappearing shortly after death were documented centuries ago, such as in the classic story of Milarepa, a Buddhist saint from Tibet who lived in the 11th century. Milarepa’s biography was translated into French by Jacques Bacot in 1912, and into English by Walter Evans-Wentz in the 1920s.
“In the ninth chapter of this literary classic,” explains Tiso, who wrote a dissertation about the Buddhist saint, “It states that his body completely disappeared shortly after his death.”
Even the earliest biographies of Milarepa, says Tiso, attest to this phenomenon. In addition, accounts exist about the great eighth-century tantric master Padmasambhava and how his body vanished.
The Significance of Practice and Culture
When conducting this type of research, says Tiso, it is important not only to interview as many people as possible, but also to study biographies and any written explanations of these events. When he arrived in Tibet to investigate the death of Khenpo A-chos, Tiso was fortunate enough to obtain the bulk of his biography by Sonam Phuntsok within an hour of his arrival.
What is at stake, explains Tiso, is not simply verification of a phenomenon, but understanding the values, spiritual practices, and culture in which this phenomenon is embedded. “We need to examine these institutions and practices in a new light in order to recover for humanity some very profound truths about the expansion of the human consciousness and our potential as human beings.”
This opportunity is present in the Nyarong region in Tibet, where several incidences of the rainbow body are said to have occurred. The research team is now studying their way of life, especially their spiritual practices.
Tiso has also obtained copies of spiritual retreat manuals, which have been particularly helpful.
Lama A-chos told Tiso that it takes sixty years of intensive practice to achieve the rainbow body. “Whether it always takes that long, I don’t know,” acknowledges Tiso, “but we would like to be able to incorporate, in a respectful way, some of these practices into our own Western philosophical and religious traditions.”
At the same time, continues Tiso, the research team plans to expend the scope of this research beyond the confines of the Tibetan culture, so they can compare the rainbow body phenomenon with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To our knowledge, says Tiso, the bodies of most Christian saints did not disappear or shrink after their deaths.
“Highly realized saints in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity tend to move in the direction of incorruption, so that the body does not decay after death.”
However, he adds, bodily ascensions are mentioned in the Bible and other traditional texts for Enoch, Mary, Elijah, and possibly Moses. And there are numerous stories of saints materializing after their death, similar to the widespread phenomenon known as the “light-body.”
“In my church of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Italy, we have a large number of accounts, going back centuries, that indicate that these saints appeared in dreams and visions, rescued people from harm, and cured them of diseases. Even today, people still tell me they have these visions,” says Tiso.
In 1984, when Tiso was meditating with his eyes open in a chapel in Italy, he, too, had an extraordinary vision. Jesus Christ, he says, appeared before him in the form of a violet light-body. At that time, Tiso was considering taking a teaching position in the United States, but in this vision Christ indicated he should stay in Italy. “It was important not to make a mistake at that point in my life,” reflects Tiso. “I did stay in Italy, where I was eventually ordained, and I lived in a hermitage chapel for almost twelve years.”
Tiso has also had several Tibetan teachers appear to him in dreams. When he gives public lectures he speaks frankly about these experiences, because he feels it is important for people to understand that they are more common than we think. “I think that as people mature in their spiritual practice, they begin to have visionary experiences.”
Recent Implications
Countries such as China, Tiso notes, and certain political movements in Western Europe have chosen to abandon and even physically destroy anything to do with the contemplative life. “We’re now being asked to examine those institutions and their practices in a new light in order to recover for humanity some very profound truths about who we are as human beings.”
This research is clearly controversial because it tackles the age-old questions of life after death, the immortal soul, and reincarnation. Furthermore, it suggests that the alleged resurrection of Jesus Christ was not an isolated case, but shines as an example of what may be possible for all human beings.
Both Tiso and Steindl-Rast emphasize that these experiences are said to occur only in highly evolved individuals who are the embodiment of compassion and love. They speculate these qualities- conscience and consciousness- are a driving force of evolution. “It is my great hope that the rainbow body research will make us more aware of this possibility,” says Steindl-Rast.
Tiso holds the opinion that in today’s world, where consumerism, exploitation, and economic injustice are still out of control, there is an urgent need to reinforce the more loving, altruistic, and spiritual dimensions of the human being. In the future, he says, we should consider establishing new models of monasteries and retreat centers for individuals who wish, with idealistic motivations, to intensify their spiritual practices. He also proposes initiating a “holy” laboratory to document the progress of individuals.
As for the rainbow body, Tiso and his team hope actually witness and scientifically document the entire experience while it is occurring.
“What is important” says Schlitz, “is that we broaden our scope of what we believe is possible. We want to discover if there are ways we can begin to develop spiritual practices that, even though they might not lead us to personally experience the rainbow body, could lead us to some other manifestation of our highest potential.”
Gail Bernice Holland is an associate editor of IONS Review, and former editor of Connections. She is the author of A Call for Connection: Solutions for Creating a Whole New Culture (New World Library, 1998). Contact: gbauthor@noetic.org.
Brother David Steindl-Rast is the director of the Network For Grateful Living and oversees the content development of its website www.gratefulness.org .

Ref LiveDeepNOW

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Nada Yoga – outer and inner

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    Article from Bindu no 10/ Blog Ref http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Multi-Dimensional_Science


    Nada Yoga is about sounds. It is the knowledge of the quality of sounds and the way they affect people. There are coarse sounds and fine sounds . The very finest sounds we hear within.
    In this article, we will explore the ancient science of Nada Yoga and present a detailed practical introduction to a powerful form of meditation.
    In 1969 Swami Satyananda and I visited an ashram at Bhagalpur in Bihar, India. A yogi had settled there who specialised in Nada Yoga. I remember the big paintings there, of meditating figures with rainbow auras around them. The different colours illustrated different levels of consciousness and their corresponding inner Nada (sound).
    The reason why this yogi (who had the same teacher as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation) had established an ashram exactly there was because of the special nature of the place. The area had earlier belonged to the military. The soldiers had dug subterranean corridors and tunnels which reached all the way to the nearby town. There were caves or rooms connected to these corridors deep under the ground, and it was those caves which attracted the yogi. There you could sit and meditate without hearing a sound from noisy India, and so you could concentrate on the inner sounds. In the total silence down there, I experienced how the sounds really stood out.
    Such ideal conditions can be difficult to reproduce. But we can compensate for them with certain exercises and poses. These we will describe in this article.

    The Outer Nada Yoga - under the Influence of Music

    Some years ago, when I made the CD Experience Yoga Nidra , I asked the musician and composer, Roop Verma, to make the background music to the longer of the two deep relaxations on the CD. I knew that he possessed a knowledge that was about to be forgotten, of how outer sounds, such as tones and composition of tones influence us. He learned this, partly with his first teacher, Swami Shyam, and partly through studies of old texts about Nada Yoga in Indian music.
    In connection with the production of Experience Yoga Nidra he recorded, as the first musician of our generation, themes and harmonies which are in tune with and touch our different chakras or psychic centres.
    In Bindu # 2 (so far published only in printed form in English, but soon to become available on yogameditation.com) we dealt with the effects of music, and Roop Verma contributed an article. In the current issue, our subject is the inner sounds, which are experienced and used in the deeper steps of the Nada Yoga meditation. But first Roop Verma shall tell us a little about the development of Indian music and its splitting away from its original wholeness and power.
    Some time ago, when Roop Verma came to play on our Three Months Sadhana Retreat, I asked him whether or not there were different ways to perform Indian music. It had puzzled me that certain celebrated musicians of India today, at least to me, did not seem to communicate any feeling of meditation. I seem to experience a difference between those who 'put on a show' or 'perform' their music – and such people as the flute player Pannalal Ghosh or the singer Kumar Gandharva, who radiate such a degree of devotion in their music that it places the listener in a deeper state. Roop gave me the answer in the introduction to the music that he was going to play for us:
    "Until about a thousand years ago there was no such thing as 'concerts' in the Indian tradition. There was no 'performance' of music or dance or singing.
    Music was confined to the temples for sacred ceremonies and rituals. They were not entertainment forms of music, but what I call very potent sound formulas. Such formulas are like different elements; you put them together and you get a certain effect. They were used in ancient times to bring tranquillity and peace to agitated minds and tired bodies, as well as to change and transform the listener.
    On the one hand it had a therapeutic effect; to heal disease, to heal sickness. On the other hand its aim was to focus the attention of people who came to the temple – towards one-pointedness. When we are centred and one-pointed, our lives take on a different meaning. When, on the other hand, our minds are scattered, the way we experience things is also influenced. So in order to achieve that focus, music was instrumental.
    From the beginning of the eleventh century, we see a turn in the history of India. Many foreign invaders came and established their empires there: the Persians, the Moguls, and so on. They liked the music and art so much that they invited the musicians to their courts, to appreciate and honour them.
    Therefore something very significant happened at that time. The musicians and the music, which so far had only been played at the temple, were now made available to everyone from the king to the common people. People who did not belong to the temples could now enjoy the music.
    However, this had one disadvantage. Previously, the artist or the musician did not have to prove anything. In the temple you play as part of a ceremony. There is a deity, there is a God sitting there and you don't have to prove anything, because supposedly God knows everything – all the music, and all the variations, all the rhythms.
    But the king doesn't know. You have to prove it to the king. So the ego comes along. Now the egos began to build up as the art was developing. They became very intellectual. A lot of music started to come from the left brain, and as a result the music took another shape.
    As the inner feelings change so does the art expression changes.
    From that point onwards there are two branches in music. One became the entertainment branch or what I call deshi. The other is called margi ( marga means a path) when we use the music as a path to evolve ourselves.
    I had the honour of studying in both schools..."
    One can say that Indian music today, besides folk music and popular film music, includes devotional music (singing like Kirtan and Bhajan); the classic concert music; but also an esoteric music, which is linked to Nada Yoga and which masters the aforementioned knowledge of the influence of sounds. These three may very easily overlap and there is no doubt that music as such, and Indian music in particular, affects us and therefore is often seen as being part of Nada Yoga.
    To that may be added the fact that Indian musicians, at least in earlier times, had to learn yoga, as well as the inner Nada yoga and various breathing exercises to strengthen and develop their ear for music. We present one such exercise in this issue of Bindu: Bhramari – the Bumble Bee .

    The Ragas and Nada Yoga

    In different conscious states the mind is attracted to different vibrations of Nada. In Indian music, these forms of Nada are known as Ragas; tonal frameworks that are appropriate to certain times of the day or certain seasons. It seems as if some compositions of sounds are unpleasant at one time of the day and pleasant at another.
    Swami Satyananda says that he is especially fond of India's midnight music, the Malkos, the Durga or Jogia Ragas. The evening raga, such as Bhimpalasi, is also popular with many. India's morning music (Bhairawee or Bhairawa Raga) appeals to some, but not to all. For the most part, girls and boys at the sensitive age prefer Bhairawee.
    "The deer is entrapped by sweet sound.
    The cobra is enchanted by sweet music.
    Raga Punnagavarrali charms the cobra.
    Nada entraps the mind.
    The mind gets Laya in sweet nada.
    Therefore you can easily control the mind
    through the practice of Nada Yoga"
    (Swami Sivananda)
    Music can be a pleasant, interesting and inspiring spiritual practice in itself – but as we have heard from Roop Verma, it can also be a part of Nada Yoga. Through music, the mind can be tuned to the finest vibrations and thereby be prepared for the transcendent Nada.
    "Nada is found within.
    It is a music without strings which plays in the body.
    It penetrates the inner and the outer
    and leads you away from illusion."

    The inner Nada Yoga dissolves the inhibitions of the mind

    "By one who is desirous of attaining perfection in Yoga,
    Nada alone has got to be closely heard (meditated upon),
    having abandoned all thoughts and with a calm mind."
    (Sankaracharya, Yoga-taravali)
    The first version of this article was printed in the Danish Bindu magazine in 1973. An updated version was prepared in 1996, and published in 1997 in Danish, Swedish, English and German. This article is mainly based on what I learned in the late sixties, during my time in India with Swami Satyananda, on his teaching and lectures, and on lectures and expositions he gave when he visited the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School in Copenhagen in the seventies.
    In 1974 I participated in a conference in Denmark where doctors, psychologists, authors and others, as well as myself representing yoga, were invited by the Ministry of Education to exchange ideas on psychosomatics (the relationship between body and mind). I then happened to tell a young scientist that there are methods in yoga where you do not have to suffer to liberate yourself from old influences or tensions, where you do not always have to confront your traumas, but can dissolve them. I was thinking about Laya Yoga, and especially about Nada Yoga, which is a discipline of the former.
    The young scientist was certainly interested, but perhaps rather shocked. Despite the ostensible independence of science in relation to religion, the basic belief prevails that things must hurt before they do us any good.

    Laya Yoga

    Music helps us relax and creates an atmosphere, but the Nada Yoga meditation on the inner sounds reaches deeper and more precisely into our states, and has a strong liberating effect in dissolving the very deepest blocks and inhibitions of the mind. Every meditation practice or technique which dissolves the inhibitions of the mind and minimises its activity is called Laya Yoga. Therefore Nada Yoga belongs to Laya Yoga.
    The ancient great masters of Hatha Yoga, such as Gheranda Rishi (author of The Gheranda Samhita) claimed that Hatha Yoga could also be a part of Laya Yoga. For instance, breathing exercises can be used to achieve a mental state totally free from tensions. Even during the meditation Antar Mauna (Inner Silence) you are able to bring your mind to a state of complete rest.
    Nada Yoga is an important method in Tantra, and the inner Nada Yoga is a permanent part of the education at the retreats of the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School.

    Nada – a Definition

    The word Nada comes from the Sanskrit root, Nad. Nad means to
    flow. The etymological meaning of Nada is a process or a stream of consciousness. Generally, the word Nada means sound.

    Different States of Nada

    In Tantra it is thought that sound occurs in four dimensions – four levels of sound relating to frequency, degree of fineness and strength.
    1. The coarse (ordinary audible, material) sound,
    2. the mental sound,
    3. the visualised sound and
    4. the transcendent sound.
    Other Tantric Meditations
    We can compare the different states of Nada with other tantric meditations where we begin in the senses, in order to satisfy the mind and create a state of security as a basis for going deeper. (See also Bindu # 8: Harmony between the Experiencer and the Experienced )
    We can also begin in the physical: From having experienced the body and its muscles and organs we turn to the breath, which is experienced without any interference. In this way, a deeper relaxed state is gradually triggered.
    With a mantra, a sound syllable which we repeat mentally, we transcend the mind and reach the inner sounds and symbols; pictures which we see within and which, depending on their nature, represent various levels of consciousness.
    Through the use of an inner or psychic symbol , we remain aware in normally unconscious states and get closer to the core of our being and the state of pure being.
    Ordinary sounds are the coarsest manifestation of Nada. We are aware of the coarse sounds and we hear them every day. They are vibrations which hit our ear drums from the space around us, from our surroundings.
    After having left the coarse and tangible sounds that we experience through the senses, we can become conscious of the mental sounds. They are sounds which we hear in the mind. Their frequency and strength is dependent on both our mental and physical state. In a relaxed state they are easy to perceive. The sounds also become clearer when we are exhausted, agitated or after intense and prolonged physical activity.
    When we go deeper still, we reach the astral sound, the sound which is found in the inner space and which appears in visual form. Certain forms answer to certain sounds and certain states. Sounds or forms which we, for instance, experience in our dreams, belong to this plane, as well as sounds which are linked to certain meditation symbols.
    See also About Sound and Form in this issue
    Behind the visual sounds the transcendent or supra-conscious sound is found. The transcendent sound and the transcendent consciousness are the same. In Nada Yoga, universal consciousness is perceived in the form of sound.
    The tangible or coarse universe, that which we experience through our senses, and in the mind, can in this way be led back to the source, to the sound, to Nada.
    For the Nada yogi it is important to make contact with the sounds that are found in the other dimensions: the mental and psychic. In this way the capabilities of the mind are expanded.
    Let us look at each of the four states in more detail. In Sanskrit they are called: Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari. We start with the highest:

    Para Nada

    The transcendent sound, which has the highest frequency, is called Para Nada. Para means highest or farthest, and in this connection: transcendent. Para Nada is beyond the reach of the sense organs. It is heard in other dimensions, on other levels of consciousness.
    In music, each tone has a certain number of vibrations per second, which we call frequency. The character of the tones can vary in length, strength, height and harmonics (overtone structure). Exact knowledge of this can be obtained by using a frequency analyser, which can split a tone in vibrations per second, show its amplitude (strength) and its overtone structure.
    In Indian music the vibrations are called Andolana.
    We are familiar with high frequency sounds from daily life, such as dog whistles and the sounds which bats emit, as well as electronically produced tones.
    The ear cannot grasp sounds which vibrate beyond a certain speed. When a certain frequency is reached, the sounds become inaudible and can only be perceived subjectively as an inner sound. Still, we are not conscious of all vibrations in the cosmos .
    Also below a certain level, we are limited by our sense of hearing. The waves, which the electroencephalograph (EEG) registers in order to measure the brain's bioelectric impulses, are limited to a quite small number of sinus waves, between one and 60 Hz. These 'waves' actually belong to the musical scale. But the human ear cannot perceive sounds below about 16 Hz – although the structure of such tones is in harmony with the rest of the scale.
    The very low bass tones, for example, can be felt as vibrations directly on the body even though they are not audible.
    The Nada Yogis reveal that Para or transcendent sound has the highest frequency. Para's intense vibration makes it inaudible. Various texts mention that the Para sound has no vibrations. It is a sound without movement or frequency – a still sound. We cannot grasp a sound which has no vibration. When a sound reaches its maximum height, then it reaches stillness and that is Para Nada. It is completely uniform. A state of consciousness corresponds with this stillness. The Nada Yogi reaches this state by becoming one with Para Nada.
    In the Upanishads, the mantra OM is said to be the manifestation of Para. But not the audible OM, which we chant. That is not Para because it is the object of our hearing, our understanding and our logic. Therefore it cannot be called transcendent. Para is at the same time silent and eternal. It has form and its nature is Jyoti (light). It is different to the sounds one usually understands or hears.
    The Upanishads state clearly about the Para Sound: " This is OM, this sound is OM."
    "Nada is sound.
    OM is Nada Brahman.
    Veda is Nada Brahman.
    Sound is vibration.
    Name is inseparable from form.
    The form may vanish,
    but the name or sound remains.
    OM is the first vibration of sound.
    The world has come out of Nada or OM.
    In Pralaya all sounds merge in OM.
    Sound vibrations are gross and subtle.
    The quality of Akasha [space or ether] is sound.
    Akasha is infinite.
    So you can fill the ear with the infinite sound."
    (Swami Sivananda)


    The second level of sound has fewer vibrations and is coarser than Para. It is called Pashyanti.
    Pashyanti in Sanskrit means: "that which can be seen or visualised". The old scripts maintain that sound can also be seen. How can one see sound? Have you ever heard music in a dream? This particular dimension of sound that occurs in dreams is called Pashyanti. It can be called a mental sound. It is neither conscious nor half conscious. It is a subconscious sound which is linked to the characteristic of your mind and not to your vocal organs; tongue, throat or mouth. It is not heard with the physical ear, but with the inner ear.

    When I loudly say "Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram", it is called Vaikhari, but when I close my eyes and mouth and go in and mentally repeat the sound, "Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram", while visualizing its colour and form, it is called Pashyanti. When the word or the sound is heard in a sphere where one is not conscious of the outer surroundings, it is called Pashyanti. When every outer sound has disappeared and you hear a completety new sound, unlike the ordinary sounds, then it is Pashyanti Nada.


    A sound, which has fewer vibrations than Para and Pashyanti, but which is finer than Vaikhari, is called Madhyama.
    Madhyama is a sound that can hardly be heard. Ordinarily, when two objects hit each other they produce a coarse sound; like when we clap. But in the case of Madhyama no two things physically hit each other to produce an audible sound. Madhyana produces vibrations such as when one whispers. It is an intermediate sound. The word Madhyama means "in between" or "in the middle". So this middle sound can be called whispering or is like the sound of whispering.


    The fourth and coarsest plane of Nada is Vaikhari. The Vaikhari sounds are audible and can be physically produced. Vaikhari is the spoken sound. It is produced for example by rubbing or hitting two things against each other. Its vibrations are limited to a certain range.
    Para has the quality of soul, Pashyanti has a mental quality. Madhyama has the finer quality of the vocal organs, and Vaikhari has the coarse quality of the same physical organs.

    The Universe and Nada

    According to Nada Yogis and scriptures dealing with Nada Yoga, the original and transcendent sound is the seed from which the whole of creation has grown.
    The Nada Yogi experiences the macrocosmic universe as a projection of sound vibrations; the whole world as having developed from sound alone.
    The Bible says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". This word is called Nada or Shabda in Sanskrit.
    Sufis in India call it Surat. Surat Shabda Yoga is another name for Nada Yoga practice. Certain Muslim mystics are also of the opinion that the world has developed from sound and form.
    Australia's original inhabitants, who supposedly have the oldest continuous culture on earth, tell how the ancestors made the world come into being through song.
    The Nada Yogis claim that the five elements, the five physical senses, the five subtle senses, the fourfold mind and the three gunas have developed from an eternal sound. That means that the material, the mental, the psychic and the intellectual universe have all originated from Nada-Brahma, the sound universe. It is the way the Nada Yogi experiences his/her reality. It manifests itself in the form of vibrations, of which the highest either does not vibrate at all or vibrates at such a high frequency that it lies outside the reach of human senses.
    The eternal or original Nada vibration is the highest. When any object vibrates with an enormous and incredible speed, it then becomes silent. That means that the highest point of speed and vibration is silence. This eternal vibration seems to be the creative principle behind all matter.
    The Upanishads (specially the Nada-Bindu-Upanishad and the Hansa-Upanishad) and the Vedas describe that in the beginning was nothing. There was absolutely nothing, there was non-existence in the universe – there was only sound. The sound was unending; the sound was the only existing reality. From that sound, the universe evolved, and therefore the fundamental structure of the universe is based on Nada or sound vibrations.
    Music is a result of Nada.
    Mantra in its purest form is a manifestation of Nada.
    The movement of Energy (Prana) in the body is an expression of Nada.

    Nada Yoga Meditation

    All real forms of meditation share certain common effects.
    Some forms are stronger, others lighter, some focus on one thing, others focus on another.
    The method in Nada Yoga Sadhana is to reach the original, the finest inner sound, Shabda or the inner word.
    You could characterise Nada Yoga as a sort of vibrating vacuum cleaner, which dissolves tensions and blocks, even at the finer levels of consciousness.
    To reach the superconscious or transcendent and non-empiric sound, the process must start with the experience of the coarser sounds.

    The Nada Centre

    In which centre is the transcendent Nada experienced? There are different traditions: Bhaktas (those who liberate themselves through devotion, Bhakti Yoga) place their Ishta, their personal symbol, in Anahata Chakra by the heart. Yogis use the centre of intuition in Ajna Chakra in the middle of the head. The Vedantics seek it in Hiranya Garbha, the luminous or golden egg in Sahasrara Chakra at the upper part of the head.
    In the Nada Yoga tradition, the yogis have located the sound centre in Bindu. The Brahmins in India have a tuft of hair where Bindu is situated, at the top of the back of the head. It is the centre in the brain where an on-going sound vibration takes place. To be able to experience the Nada sound, Bindu has to be located.
    But rather than exploring the theory of this science at the outset, it is better initially to investigate it in a practical way and localize or discover the mental, astral and psychic nature of the Nada sound.
    Within Nada Yoga, there are different techniques and aids that can be used to help the aspirant go through the different psychic or non-physical sounds, so that consciousness can be brought into harmony with the real Nada.

    Japa Yoga – Nada Yoga in Bhakti Yoga

    When a Bhakti Yogi uses a Mantra, it is first repeated ( Japa) aloud ( Vaikhari). Here he or she focuses on the sound of the Mantra produced by the vocal cords.
    When the Bhakti Yogi has warmed up with this practice, or when he or she has attained a deeper and clearer awareness of the sound of the Mantra, then the Bhakta intensifies the experience of the Mantra by whispering it or by saying it with the lips without producing an audible sound. The Bhakta aims at becoming one with the whispered Mantra.
    When this is achieved, and the Bhakta realises that the mantra has become mental, the movements of the lips will stop.
    The same mantra is now chanted in the head or rather in the heart. And the mind begins to merge with the rhythm and vibration of the mantra. The Bhakti Yogi experiences it as if the mind actually sings it, so that everyone can hear it. But it happens only within.
    Ajapa Japa
    Then it occurs to the Bhakti Yogi, that he or she is not producing the mantra, but hearing the mental and fine tones, as if they are there by themselves (Ajapa Japa).
    When the Mantra begins to have the desired effect, it causes the awareness to let go of all outer things (Pratyahara ) and turn to the deeper levels of consciousness. Then the Mantra changes to Nada, a constant sound which occurs by itself. The aspirant will on this level of consciousness think it is audible, but it will not be noticed or heard by others. It is Mantra-Nada-Yoga for Bhakti Yogis.

    Practical Introduction to Nada Yoga


    There are certain precautions one must take as an intense Nada Yoga practice may give rise to a disturbing presence of certain sounds. It can happen that a person experiences the sound as if it's humming in the ears the whole day. Or that they hear the ringing of bells or other sounds. They may become perturbed in their daily tasks by these tones.
    But this happens very rarely, if at all. On the contrary, a number of students have experienced relief from tinnitus after combining Nada Yoga with the breathing exercise Bhramari and the Yoga Nidra relaxation. Still we are obliged to write these precautions.
    Through the practice of Nada Yoga, the inner sounds are gradually developed, but you do not have to listen to them at other times of the day. Let us presume that Nada Yoga has been practiced in the night and you have discovered different sounds. The next morning you go to the office or the classroom and begin to hear the sound of bells. You want to avoid it, you try, but you still hear the sound. You may also experience it as if bees are humming in your ears.
    If these symptoms appear you have to consider what to do. Is your diet okay? If not, you have to change it. Do you want to continue, but get irritated or disturbed by the sounds? Then you have to either change your attitude or (if you do not succeed and want the sounds to stop) give up the Nada Yoga path.
    A Siddhi
    The Nada Yogi can hear a voice in a wakeful state if he is at an advanced level. To him, it sounds as if someone is whispering in his ears. This is a kind of 'siddhi', a psychic or extraordinary ability, such as here, to hear an unknown voice.
    This, however, should not be confused with a group of people in India called Karnapischachee, which means "the ghost in the ears". The Karnapischachees are used as oracles, often consulted by people in difficulties. They hold a kind of bell in their hands and ring it close to their ears for some time, until they hear a voice. Whatever is heard or whispered in their ears is communicated to the person who asks. A Yoga practitioner should never use such a method to achieve this ability as it often leads to deafness. As a consequence, the Karnapischachees in India have hearing problems.
    These days, many people have impaired hearing, for reasons comparable to the case of the Karnapischachee. Rock musicians, for example, or people who work in a noisy environment. These injuries of course have nothing to do with Nada Yoga. Also there are people who spontaneously hear sounds like a ringing in their ears. Some of these sounds may be caused by ear injuries, while others can be related to sounds, such as the ones heard in Nada Yoga. The Yogi cannot monopolize these phenomena; the yogi has only discovered them and knows how to benefit from them, but the sounds are there anyhow.
    The Attitude will often make a difference
    If a person seeks help from a doctor because he or she is suffering from disturbing sounds and does not know the positive sides of this phenomenon, and if the doctor cannot help, maybe it could be useful for the person to change his/her attitude towards the sounds and begin to practice Nada Yoga under the guidance of an expert.
    It often happens that things we want to get rid of do not disappear when we fight them. It applies, for example, to pain. If we, on the other hand, meet the pain and allow ourselves to experience it, then we can let go of it. In the tradition of tantric yoga this method is called Pratyahara . It has already been explained in Bindu and is described in more detail in my book, Yoga, Tantra and Meditation in Daily Life (Rider Books, UK and Red Wheel Weiser, USA. In France, Editions Satyanandashram).
    This way of applying Pratyahara is in accordance with a conclusion that science has reached concerning noise in the environment: If you view the sounds as harmful and become irritated, you are more likely to be harmed by them than if you, to a certain extent, accept them.
    With regard to Nada Yoga, it is possible to turn what you once considered disturbing sounds to your own advantage; see On a Wavelength with Oneself .
    Teresa of Avila (Teresa de Jesus) did not find guidance about the inner sounds in the European culture in which she grew up, so she didn't realise how she could use them in her spiritual life. She describes them as clearly as any Nada Yogi in her book, "The Interior Castle":
    "It roars like many big rivers with waterfalls, there are flutes, and a host of little birds seems to be whistling, not in the ears, but in the upper part of the head, where the soul is said to have its special seat."

    A Nada Yogi's Diet

    A Nada Yogi's diet ought to be easily digested. Food which brings a quick energy rush to the brain is not suitable. Food and drink which cause hypertension or high blood pressure should be avoided. You have to ensure that you get the necessary nutrients to maintain the body's normal functions.

    Preliminary Practice of Nada Sadhana

    The Nada Yogi makes use of certain Mudras (attitudes) and Bandhas (locks) and a few Pranayamas (breathing exercises).
    Here follows a short description of Mula Bandha, which is known by most people who practice Hatha Yoga; then of a Mudra which is useful to awaken the Nada sound: Vajroli Mudra. Vajroli Mudra is also known by many Hatha Yoga practitioners, but here it may be explained in another way.
    In many books on Hatha Yoga we are told that, in Mula Bandha, we should concentrate on the anus, on the anal sphincter muscle. That is in itself correct, but according to Tantra, and the more advanced yoga, Mula Bandha is actually a contraction of the perineum. This must be understood fully. The contraction of the anus or the anal sphincter muscle is Mula Bandha as understood by Hatha Yoga novices. In Tantra Yoga, however, Mula Bandha is the contraction of the perineum, the 'seat' of kundalini, also known as Muladhara Chakra. It is the area between the anus and the sexual organs which should be contracted.
    Vajroli Mudra also comes under Hatha Yoga. Many different forms of Vajroli are found, which we shall not go into detail about here. The contraction of the muscles of the sexual organs and the urinary system is called Vajroli Mudra. It influences two important nerve flows in such a way that the energy is freed or transformed to heat.

    Muladhara Chakra is the actual starting point for Nada. When this chakra is heated, the sound is experienced by the aspirant. But the original sound is split up in different frequencies in the different chakras or psychic centres found in the spine and in the head. Vocally they are expressed through different Bija Mantras, the seed-syllables: Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham and Ombeginning in Muladhara and ending in Ajna Chakra .
    The chakras are central seats of consciousness and psychic energy in the spine and in the body. They are symbolised by lotus flowers four-leafed, six-leafed, 10-leafed, 12-leafed, 16-leafed, two-leafed and a thousand-leafed lotus flowers. The leaves represent the number of minor energy flows, Nadis, to and from each chakra and their corresponding frequencies, indicated by secondary Mantras (sound syllables) written on each leaf. As an example, see the illustration of Muladhara Chakra above.
    Breathing exercises can call forth or manifest Nada. As already mentioned, Bhramari (the Bumble Bee ) is essential for yoga practitioners and musicians.
    When you have learnt Mula Bandha, Vajroli Mudra and Yoni Mudra (see exercise 3 in the next section), then they are practiced while you hold the breath and turn your awareness to Bindu. This is where the Nada Yoga concentration really begins.

    The Poses in Nada Yoga

    1. The Nada Yoga pose is the most suitable pose for beginners. Take a fairly big and hard pillow, place it on the floor and sit astride it, so there is pressure on the perineum. Sit with the soles of the feet flat on the floor. The knees project upwards, so that the elbows can rest on them. The back is kept straight.
    Then put a thumb in each ear and at the same time rest the head in the hands.

    2. Sit in Siddhasana the perfect pose with a stool in front of you to rest the elbows. This pose should be used by those who can sit in this pose for a long time without moving.
    Siddhasana is done by placing one heel up against the perineum (for men) or the vagina (for women) with the rest of the foot lying against the thigh. Then put the other foot above the first, so that the heel presses the lower abdomen and the pubic bone above the sexual organs. The two heels must be placed right over each other without touching. Finally, the toes of the upper foot are placed between the thigh and leg muscle. In this way the pose is locked. Some people are also able to pull the toes of the lower foot up between the calf muscle and the thigh.

    3. For the more advanced, Yoni Mudra– to be as in the womb is recommended. Sit in Siddhasana. Inhale and close the ears with the thumbs. Place the index fingers over the eyelids, so they can stay closed without being pressed too hard. Close the nostrils with the middle fingers, one at each side and close the mouth with the ring and little fingers by placing them above and below the lips respectively. Then do Mula Bandha and Vajroli Mudra while holding the breath.
    Variation: Do the above but without closing the mouth and nose. Stay sitting for longer and breathe normally.
    Some suggest only practising Shanmukhi Mudra. It is Yoni Mudra without Mula Bandha and Vajroli Mudra. It is, however, a less effective practice, as you will understand from the above explanations.

    4. For the even more advanced Nada Yoga practitioner, who has succeeded in following the sounds with closed ears: sit in Siddhasana with the hands resting on the knees and the index finger in contact with the thumb, either at its root or at its top. The three other fingers are stretched out and together. This position of the hands is called Chin Mudra.
    At this stage you need no longer close the ears if there is reasonable silence around you.
    " Bathe in the centre of sound,
    as in the continuous sound of a waterfall.
    Or, by putting the fingers in the ears,
    hear the sound of sounds"
    (Vigyana Bhairava Tantra)

    When you sit in the Pose in Nada Yoga

    Lock the ears gently with your fingers. Listen inwardly up to Bindu at the top of the back of the head.
    When you concentrate on Bindu, after having closed the ears, it is here that the sound is manifested from the transcendental plane to the next and where you experience it as an astral sound.
    Now, you may hear the sound of a bumble bee. It can be the sound of a musical instrument, a harp perhaps or a flute, the rhythm of a guitar, birds chirping at sundown, crickets or grasshoppers. It can even be the vision of the sky on starry night where a total silence prevails.
    Continue listening for some time to the sound which comes to you first.
    Let the first sound be the starting point the one end of a thread. Hold on to it as closely as you can. When you are getting really close to the sound, then you will experience that other sounds arise in the background. Now you let go of the first sound, move on to another and concentrate intensely on it.
    While you listen, the sound you have chosen will become clearer. You get closer to the sound, both mentally and psychically, and feel as if you become one with it. When this has happened you discover that other sounds have arisen in the background, and you choose one of them, which you then concentrate on.
    In this way you can continue with a fourth, a fifth, a sixth sound, a seventh, eight and ninth inner sound. Different sounds can arise. It can be like a river flowing through the landscape; the distant murmur of the sea, or a bell which rings or chimes
    If it is difficult to discover a sound at Bindu, then let the mind search at Sahasrara or Ajna, or at the left or right ear drum. Or experience a space within, hearing it there in the middle of the head. Or search at the eyebrow centre – go on until you are sure you hear a sound.
    The method to discover the sound is simple. Instead of imagining a sound, put all your attention on listening, and you will soon hear the first sound. The sound you have chosen should be followed until it becomes clear and distinct. As soon as it is distinct, another sound, another tone, finer or weaker is heard or felt in the background, and then you listen to that, till that has become prevailing.
    Sometimes it is a finer sound of the same kind e.g. a flute, but finer, more subtle, than the first, that you discover behind the first; sometimes it is like you hear in a different way or another direction and quite another kind of sound appears, e.g. of bells chiming.
    When you discover a new sound, then let go of the one you just listened to, and follow the new. Sound after sound will keep coming up as if from the bottom of an ocean.

    The Nada Yoga Sadhana unfolds and reaches the unbroken sound, which in yoga is known as Anahata Nada– the sound which continues. It has no beginning and no end.
    At the highest point of your practice, your Sadhana's highest state, you may feel that the whole body and mind, the whole personality is nothing but rapid vibrations, a movement of fast sound vibrations. Thus you experience yourself as sound.
    This Nada Yoga is a great Sadhana, a great spiritual method, a process that continues until consciousness is free of the mind's influences. In India many people have perfected it.

    When to practice

    You can practice Nada Yoga whenever you have time. However, in order to get a tangible result, a beginner should practice between midnight and two o'clock in the morning.
    At midnight, there no disturbing sounds, and the absence of light in the atmosphere also helps. Doing it at this time helps to turn the mind inwards.
    Or get up at two or three o'clock in the morning, take a shower and sit for the meditation. You will find it quite different at this time, and you will surely hear something. Once you have found a trace of the sound and come into contact with it, then it's easy to go on.
    Of course, at the beginning there are disturbing diversions regardless of the time of practice. Our mind is influenced by inhibitions, habits, tendencies and urges. But even if there are many disturbances within, the practice of this Sadhana, the spiritual practice, is generally very rewarding.

    Traditional Descriptions

    Nada at different Levels of Consciousness

    The sounds which are heard are real. They are symbols of the contents of the mind and consciousness. The mind rests in those symbols and, with their help, goes quickly on to a finer state. The sounds are experiences from a deeper level of consciousness, they are not imaginary. They can be understood as vibrations of different spheres of one's existence.
    In the various dimensions of existence, different sounds are heard. First, there are the physical sounds. Then, when the consciousness becomes fine and transcends the physical plane, it comes into contact with the fine sounds, which arise with the movement of the prana or the vital energy in the body.
    The whole range of human consciousness can be divided into three, or subdivided into five parts.
    The conscious area is made up of Anna-Maya-Kosha and Prana-Maya-Kosha, two 'bodies' which exist respectively as physical matter, the 'food' dimension; and as Prana, the energy dimension.
    The personality's other sphere is made up of Mano-Maya-Kosha and Vigyan-Maya-Kosha, mainly mental and astral material, the conscious mind and the dream dimension.
    The third area of consciousness is Ananda-Maya-Kosha, which is a 'body', a dimension, a 'veil' – Kosha – a state full of bliss.
    When you practice Nada Yoga, the sounds appear in accordance with the connection between the mind and the other areas of consciousness.
    Consciousness can, for example, linger in the physical body and, when the ears are closed, the sounds or vibrations that come from the heart, the lungs, the brain, the blood circulation and the different metabolic processes taking place in the body, can be heard.
    If the consciousness lingers in Prana Maya Koshathe vital energy – and has merged with it, then Nada will be heard as a flute among many other sounds.
    If the mind has reached deep into Ananda Maya Kosha, then other sounds will disappear and the fruit of Nada Yoga will remain.
    Despite this description, it is difficult to say which Nada belongs to a certain area.
    In India, illustrations are given in the form of symbolic stories.

    Rishi Narada

    The individual consciousness, which continues to rise upwards and discover the transcendental tones is, in Indian mythology, symbolised as Rishi Narada. Without denying his historic existence, the esoteric meaning of Rishi Narada must be understood.
    Narada is supposed to be a Rishi, who has a Veena (a string instrument) in his hands. According to the traditional Nada Yoga schools, the inner sound from a Murli (a flute) or a Veena belongs to that conscious sphere where Dwait Bhava or the duality of consciousness ceases to exist.

    Nada Yoga in Bhagavata

    Nada Yoga is illustrated in the big Indian book called Bhagavata Purana (not to be confused with the Bhagavad Gita). Krishna's life story is related in the form of an allegory.

    Bhagavata says:
    "Krishna left his palace at midnight and went into the jungle. The light of the full moon shone in the first winter month. He began to play the flute.
    The flute's echo spread over the quiet and undisturbed atmosphere. The music travelled from the jungle and was heard by the Gopis (village cowherd girls).
    When they heard the sound of the flute, they left their homes and their men in an instant and forgot everything that had happened there.
    They ran straight away to the place from where the flute's Nada was flowing. They began to dance around the flute player. After a little while they each discovered, that they danced with Krishna himself."
    If the story seems fantastic, when it is taken at face value, it is because what lies behind it, is only properly understood by yogis.
    Nada Yogis regard Krishna as a higher conscious plane whose Nada flows in the deepest state of Nada-Sadhana. When the flute's tones arise, the senses leave their respective objects of pleasure and experience – they withdraw to the place from where the flute's sound or Nada flows. There the senses dance around Nada. In that stage the senses let go completely of their links with the outer objects and the yogi will say, "Dharana (the ability to see and experience within) has taken place and Dhyana (meditation) is dawning".

    In Sanskrit the word Krishna means
    "that which draws" or
    "that which attracts".
    It is derived from the root "Karshan".
    Therefore the word Krishna means
    "the one who draws", "the one who withdraws" or
    "the one who attracts".
    It also means "farmer". And the word Gopi usually means "daughter of a cow herd family". In Sanskrit "go" means senses, cow, poor, the humble, and the whole visible universe. Symbolically, Gopi means: "senses".
    Who then are the men who are married to these senses – these Gopis? You could say that the men of the eyes are the forms, and the men of the ears are the gross sounds.
    When the music of the flute is heard, the sense of hearing withdraws from the outer audible sound and merges with the inner Nada.
    This process is Pratyahara .

    Nada Yoga and Kabir

    A famous Nada Yogi and poet, Kabir (see him also cited earlier in this text,
    and in Bindu # 9: "Kabir – Four Poems" ) says:
    "Who is there playing the flute in the middle of the sky?
    The flute is played where Ganges and Jamuna flow together
    and the confluence of the three rivers
    Ganges, Jamuna and Saraswati takes place in Trikuti.
    Oh, this is the meeting place for Ganges and Jamuna.
    The sound flows forth from the North.
    The Gopis hear the sound of the flute and lo!
    They are all spellbound by Nada. "
    Sky = symbol for Bindu, the centre on the top of the back of the head.
    Often Bindu is symbolised by the sky on a starry night.
    Ganges, Jamuna and Saraswati = the Nadis (energy flows): Ida, Pingala and Sushumna.
    Trikuti = The Centre between the two eyebrows.
    Gopi, see above.
    The ultimate experience in Nada Yoga is a sound which is higher than the sound of the flute. The music on this highest plane of consciousness is not a flute, Veena, clapping or the sound of brass instruments being hit together, nor is it any other instrument. It resembles neither the classical music of the East nor of the West. The music of the highest conscious plane is "Unahada Nada".

    Unahada Nada or Anahata Nada

    What is Unahada Nada? Up to now, people have not been able to agree on this. Some say that it is the cosmic sound of OM. Others say that it is like Bhramari - a sound which is unending, unbroken like the sound of a bee. Some say that it is the heartbeat, "throb, throb, throb" which is called "Unahada Nada".
    Some call it Anahada and others call it Anahata. These two words have two different meanings.
    Anahata comes from "an" + "aahata". "An-" means "no" or "un", "aahata" means "that which strikes, beats or hammers". Therefore, Anahata means "unbeaten, or no hitting of two things against each other". When a sound is produced, it happens through striking, but Anahata is a sound that is not produced through any striking. It is spontaneous and automatic.
    Certain scholars say that Nada is Anahada. "Un-" or "An-" means "none" and "Hada" means "boundary" or "connection". Anahada means "infinite", "without beginning or end" or "indescribable". It is a sound on which no limitation can be placed. It can be any sound.

    Nada Yoga and Yogi Goraknath

    Yogi Goraknath, disciple of Yogi Matsyendranath, was more spiritually developed and had greater insight into the spiritual life than even his own Guru. He describes Nada Yoga thus:
    "Oh Sadhu (aspirant), carry out Japa [the repetition of mantra] with 'So Ham'. That Japa should not be carried out by the mind. It should be experienced in the breath so that even when you are engaged in your daily activities you should be conscious of your day's 21.600 breaths. When your subconscious or your inner consciousness unites with your breath throughout the 24 hours of a day, 21.600 rhythms are experienced with a speed of 15 to 19 rounds per minute (which is at least 900 breaths per hour). Then Anahata Nada manifests itself."
    He continues:
    "There will be light in the spine. The 'Sun' energy [which is connected to the right half of the brain] , Surya Nadi, will be awakened. You will feel an indescribable vibrating sound resonate from every pore of your body and it will be like Om or Soham".

    Nada Yoga in India

    Different Nada Yoga schools exist in India - for example those which came into existence after Maharishi Mehidas, Radha Swami and Kabir.
    The initiation into Nada Yoga in India is passed on personally as is the case with the initiation into the use of Mantra and into the great Kriya Yoga. While Hatha Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, Raja Yoga and other branches of yoga are more fully and accurately described, down to the smallest detail, the Nada Yoga Sadhana remains incompletely elucidated, both in practice and in theory. Perhaps because it is taught directly from teacher to student.
    "The mind exists as long as there is sound, but with the cessation of sounds, there is the state of being above the mind.
    The sound is absorbed in the Akshara (indestructible), and the soundless state is the supreme seat.
    The mind, which along with Prana has its Karmic affinities destroyed by the constant concentration upon Nada, is absorbed in the unstained One. There is no doubt about it."
    (Nada Bindu Upanishad)

    The Subtle Discrimination between the Practices of Sunyata in Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana



    Yogi C. M. Chen

    Blog Ref http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Multi-Dimensional_Science       

    This essay is divided into two parts. The first part is a general discussion. The second part gives particulars. The purpose is to give a concept of the Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana (Mahamudra, Great Perfection and Chan) practice of Sunyata, throughout the whole system of Buddhism. Thus, the reader may see the essence of each, and chart his own course, while avoiding the two extremes of self-pride and self-abasement.

    I. General Discourse

    There are two great paths in the whole system of Buddhism; one is the Path of Liberation, the other is the Path of Love. The Path of Liberation emphasizes the philosophy of Right Views. The Path of Love lays stress on deep breathing. Our present subject is all five kinds of practice of Sunyata belonging to the Path of Liberation, and their philosophical views.
    A. The Hinayana practice of Sunyata is based on the philosophical view of Non-Egoism of Personality. Here, it is necessary to recognize that there is no self nature in any personality, either man or Buddha. This practice leads to the four realizations of the Arhat, but gives only a one-sided view of Nirvana.
    B. The Mahayana practice of Sunyata is based on the view of Non-Born in the Middle Way school. It is necessary to recognize that all Dharmas, whether persons or things, have no self nature. Here, one must use all eight meditations and contemplations which are: non-born, non-destruction, non-ceasing, non-permanence, non-coming, non-going, non-similarity, and non-difference. The Four Noble Truths and Twelve Causations are not taken as Final Truth as in Hinayana, nor is the doctrine of the Idealist School accepted as final truth. Meditate with determination on tile Non-Born philosophy of every Dharma both within consciousness and in the material world. The truth of Non-Born should penetrate not only the good but also the evil. The Hinayanists flee from evil through their Vinaya, but the Mahayanists penetrate it through Sunyata.
    C. The Vajrayana practice of Mahamudra is based on the Right View of Spontaneous Wisdom. This is sometimes called the Dharmakaya view. Here, one must be able to recognize that every Dharma is the same as the Enlightened Entity of Spontaneous Wisdom; then, hold it, learn to keep it and confirm it and finally learn how to use it. At last, it becomes intrinsic and natural. No method should be used to transform it, nor should one desire to get anything else. There is no need for any kind of exoteric contemplation as in the Mahayana teachings.
    D. The Vajrayana method called the "Great Perfection" is based on the Right View of Natural Purity. This is also called the Right View of Great Perfection. Here, every Dharma is naturally pure. There is no such defilement in discernment as belief in birth, death, Samsara or Nirvana. There is no bondage, hence no liberation, no practice and no realization. It is by itself, appears by itself, performs by itself, and is itself the result. What Dharma appears, whatever happens, there is the Great Perfection within it.
    E. In Vajrayana Chan there is no Right View to keep. The supernatural power of the Chan is within the Truth. There is no instruction, no teachings, no words or speech and no meditation. Communication between students and teacher is intuitively made by the Chan realization. Here there can be no hesitation, nor admission of comprehension.
    We have dealt with the five fundamental philosophical views. Now, we will cover their practical applications.
    1. Hinayana Non-Egoism of Personality lays most stress on analysis. Practitioners attempt to find the self in organs and every part of the body and mind, until the full recognition that there is no self at all.
    2. Mahayana practices Sunyata with the Six Paramitas which require a long time to attain. The Mahayana yogi desires to save all sentient beings but suffers defilement from the surrounding pollution in the process. It is said that when you meet a single sinful person and drink with him from the same river, you too will be polluted. This creates great obstacles. But the Bodhisattvas of the Mahayana school take no account of this for they are willing to sacrifice themselves and thus they spend many lives helping all sentient beings and thereby postponing their own attainment. Some of the Mahabodhisattvas such as Avalokitesvara and Manjusri attained Full Enlightenment but for the sake of all sentient beings they have returned to the position of Bodhisattva. It is said that Manjusri is the Guru of seven Buddhas. Despite this, he continues to retain his position of Bodhisattva. To overcome these obstacles, it is written in the Bodhisattvas Vinaya that every Bodhisattva must meditate in the Sunyata at least three times a day. That is why the path of Mahayana must last through three great kalpas.
    3. To practice Mahamudra one should have the traditional Guru and Initiation from which one obtains the practical starting point of the Enlightened Entity. Then one is able to progress through four sequences or graduations of practice. There are four yogas in Mahamudra, viz: (1) One-pointed yoga (2) Give-up-play-words yoga (3) One-taste yoga (4) Non-practice yoga. It is said that through Mahamudra, one may attain Buddhahood within this lifetime.
    4. The Great Perfection does not set up four yogic sequences. It is more immediate than Mahamudra. It lays stress on the Right View of Natural Purity and thus one attains Buddhahood at every moment. However, it is difficult to distinguish whether ones Right View of Natural Purity is accurate or not.
    5. Chan dispenses with even the view of Natural Purity. Here, one does not even use the word Buddhahood. It is said a Chanist is walking in the air as a bird; no trace remains in the air.


    The second part of this essay is composed of five divisions, progressing from the lower to the higher stages, thus making the necessary discriminations very clear.
    Before going into the discriminations, some discussions of two important principles are necessary. We must know how to use both exoteric and esoteric approaches, and recognize the similarities between Dharma teachings as well as knowing each as a whole. This is the principle of harmonization. For example, each of the five Dharmas mentioned in their Doctrines take Sunyata as a main condition. Hinayana practices Sunyata as does Mahayana and Vajrayana. The quality of Sunyata is the same in all three yanas. That is why Tsong-Kha-pa has said that the difference between Hinayana and Mahayana is in the merit and not in the Sunyata. However, he knew only how to recognize the homogeneity, but not the discriminations. I have given eight sufficient reasons in the argument against Tsong-kha-pas theory which emphasizes that the difference between Mahayana and Hinayana lies only in merit but not in wisdom as he viewed the Sunyata as similar in both. This was written about in my Chinese essay entitled "A Criticism on Tsong-kha-pas Great Workan Essay on the Stages of the Bodhi Path." I hope one day it may be translated into Tibetan and into English for readers of those languages.
    To be able to make these discriminations, it is first necessary to: (1) Study them wisely, (2) Inquire into them searchingly, (3) Reflect upon them carefully. Only then can we (4) Discriminate accurately. This will enable us to know both the differences between Dharma teachings, as well as the essence of each. Finally, when one has grasped these essential points, it becomes possible to (5) Practice them diligently. This is the Principle of Discrimination. By learning the subtle discriminations, we then know what stage we should work on, and thus resolve our self-deceit, self-pride and self-abasement.
    1. Discrimination between the practice of Sunyata in Esoteric and Exoteric Schools
    The practice of Sunyata in the exoteric schools is according to a general procedure which goes from Vinaya to Dhyana to Prajna, i.e. Commandment, Meditation, and Wisdom. It is practiced according to the Eight Negatives and Four Phrases of the Mahaparamita Sutra. This may take a long time and requires much effort.
    In the second esoteric schools, Sunyata is practiced after initiation using many techniques and methods in the Position of Consequence. That is why it is called the Consequence Doctrine. It is obtained from an accomplished Guru who is in the Position of Consequence and can bestow blessings. Through the initiation, the Guru gives a short and immediate experience of Sunyata which constitutes realization of the Consequence Position. This is a very quick method. It enables the disciple to see the Enlightened Entity intuitively. From this point he starts to practice the Mahamudra. Hence, such a Sunyata practice is not only theory, but realization. It may be compared to a rocket.
    In the exoteric schools, attempt is made to unite the philosophic practice of Sunyata with the six active paramitas. Thus philosophy and conduct are united. This is very difficult to do and often requires many attempts. The Bodhisattva spends many kalpas trying to save others before he himself is released. He can not forget his main purpose.
    In the esoteric schools, Sunyata is practiced using many kinds of yantras, mantras, visualizations and other methods based upon the experience of the Buddhas who themselves were in the Consequence Position. These are not imparted in the exoteric schools, which lack these Tantric teachings. In this way, the spiritual food and merits are gathered many times faster and easier via these Tantras. The essentials of the exoteric schools constitute the foundation of the esoteric teachings. These are practiced by the Tantrist before he practiced the Tantra. There are people who practice exoteric teachings but not Tantra. However, there is no one who practices Tantra without first practicing the exoteric.
    2. Discrimination between the Practice of Sunyata in Hinayana and Mahayana
    A. Hinayana practice of Sunyata lays stress on step by step analysis of the personality, while the Mahayana lays most stress on the here and now without analysis. In the former practice, things are broken down to atomic levels. The atom is assumed to be incapable of further division. This is taken as "Haveness" and the present seems to be there, but past and future are void. But in Mahayana practice, every Dharma of here and now is completely empty, and past, present, and future time periods are not attainable. They practice Sunyata without analysis. That is why they say that every Dharma is intrinsically void, every Dharma only a false name, and every Dharma is itself the Truth. Hinayana practice uses the example of the "broken bottle." When the analysis reaches the end, the mind which holds this "bottle" form also becomes Sunyata. Mahayana practice sees the bottle as Sunyata at once.
    B. The student of Hinayana practices the Four Noble Truths with the desire to use the Sunyata idea to escape the pain of haveness. Or, he may practice the Twelve Causations with the aim of achieving cessation of suffering by the reverse order of the Twelve Causations. Again, this is an attempt to use the Sunyata to stop pain. This practice is negative. Parables such as those of "the cow," "babies," and "fire" are used with the idea of escape from suffering. For example, there is the parable of the man who makes the mistake of thinking an officials cow is his own. He takes it with him, but upon discovering his error he frees the cow and flees his home in fear of punishment by the official. The meaning of the parable is that every Dharma is originally Sunyata but when we take the Sunyata to be self (ego), we have to fear being seized by others. This results when one practices Sunyata with the Four Noble Truths out of desire to free oneself from suffering. The highest level achieved in Hinayana is only the four realizations of Arhatship.
    The Mahayana practice of Sunyata lays stress on the same entity of Sunyata, for all sentient beings. The Mahayanist practices it with Non-Egoism and altruism, from which develops the Great Compassion of the Same Entity and the Great Compassion of the Non-Condition. Hence, he practices the six paramitas and unites with the Sunyata of Three Wheels. In this way, the ego is eventually virtually eliminated. In these ways Mahayana lays stress on positive values.
    C. The follower of Hinayana practices Sunyata in accordance with the doctrine of Causation of Karma, thus laying most stress on Vinaya. In Mahayana practice, the Sunyata is practiced in accordance with the Causation of Tathagata. In this Causation, there are Ten Wonderful Gates of the Conditional Virtues (Hwa Yen School) from which is practiced the Bodhi and thus much spiritual food of merit and wisdom is collected. In such a fashion, one may reach the Mahayana Nirvana, not just the four stages of Arhatship. Actually, the Sunyata Condition and the Sunyata Nature are just like two sides of a piece of paper. No one practices Sunyata Nature only and not Sunyata Condition, or vice versa. However, it is possible to practice Sunyata Nature with many different methods, just as it is possible to practice Sunyata Condition with many other methods.
    3. The Discrimination between the Practice of Sunyata by the Great Middle Path and the Way of Mahamudra:
    The name "the Great Middle Path" was written in a Tibetan book called The Mahamudra of the Dro Pa School. My guru said the "Great Middle Path is the seed, Mahamudra is the way or path and Great Perfection is the result or consequence." We use the adjective "great" to modify the Middle Path, because the paramita yana, belonging to exoteric doctrine, is called the Middle Way. But when we are discussing esoteric doctrines, the word "great" is used. The discrimination between the two doctrines will be discussed in the following eight paragraphs:
    A. In the Paramita Yana, one practices Sunyata with the eight negations, four phrases, eighteen kinds of Sunyata, eight parables, and certain other methods. Sunyata is investigated by using rational reason, utilizing all phenomena. The Mahamudra is based upon this exoteric doctrine, but on this foundation it adds certain other methods; in particular, the initiations through which one receives blessings and eventually the insight of the Enlightened Entity. Only at this point does one actually start to practice Vajrayana Mahamudra.
    B. The practice of Sunyata in the Paramita Yana must be combined with the other five paramitas. In this way, the student develops the Bodhicitta and the resolve to lead all sentient beings to Buddhahood before himself. The student of Vajrayana Mahamudra must stress complete renunciation. Through continuous meditation in his hermitage, he develops resolve to shorten the time of attainment and ultimately to save all sentient beings in this lifetime. To this end, he must now give up such practices as divination, magic, healing and all other Karmas which can give only temporary help to sentient beings. That was why in the Mahamudra doctrine it is written that "to practice Mahamudra, he must keep the nine cessations of body, speech and mind."
    C. The Paramita Yana moves in a gradual sequence from vinaya to dhyana to prajna. During the practice of dhyana, one first practices samatha, then samapatti, and finally the two together. Vajrayana Mahamudra practice starts at the time one gets the insight of the Enlightened Entity. At this time, samatha and samapatti become intrinsically unified. Samatha is the "entity" and samapatti is itself the "enlightened." Thus, there is no duality within the Enlightened Entity. When one has achieved this unity of samatha and samapatti it becomes possible to practice the first yoga, called "One-Pointed Yoga" In the book Mahamudra of Dro Pa School One-Pointed Yoga is considered to be just samatha. The next yoga, called "Give-up-the-Play-Word Yoga" is taken to be samapatti. In my humble opinion, this is a great mistake in the actual meaning of "one-pointed." While abiding constantly on the Enlightened Entity of Mahamudra, there is no samatha of subjectivity, no insight of objectivity, and the Enlightened Entity appears by itself, abides by itself, and continues by itself. This is the practice of Sunyata in the Consequence Position. What "Give-up-the-Play-Word Yoga" means is to give up volition in meditation on the Enlightened Entity. This does not mean giving up the sensations or thoughts of ordinary mental states, as the Great Middle Path suggests. The reader is advised to refer to my Chinese book entitled The Subtle Discrimination of the Essential Mahamudra Teachings.
    D. The practice of Sunyata of the Great Middle Path progresses in a straight line, step by step through samatha and samapatti, until the two become unified. This progression is arithmetic in quality. From the starting point of Mahamudra practice with the Enlightened Entity, to its full realization, the quality of progress is no longer in a straight line, but progresses sphere by sphere. At the starting point of the Enlightened Entity, each yoga is a sphere, perfectly round consisting of the Sunyata and Dharmakaya though yet imperfect. After each yoga is practiced and realized, the wisdom of enlightenment becomes crystalized and becomes the concrete embodiment of Dharmakaya. The term "enlightened" in the term of "Enlightened Entity" is the gnostic light of the Sunyata Condition which is the Rupakaya, while "entity" is the Dharmakaya. The practice of Sunyata of the Great Middle Path gives only a partial realization of this. That is why the Bodhisattva of the first stage does not know the Sunyata of the second. He partially cuts off some sorrows and achieves some partial realization of Dharmakaya. Hence, the Way of the Causal Doctrine can not compare with the doctrine of the Vajrayana Mahamudra. We can take the example of travelling by train or airplane as an analogy. In a train we may get out and explore the details of the stations if we wish, but we have a view limited to the immediate vicinity of the tracks. In an airplane we have a birds eye view of both sky and earth at every moment. The latter is the Tantric method of practicing Sunyata, that is, the Mahamudra.
    E. The Tantric doctrine of Mahamudra uses some metaphors and parables which are the same as those usually used in the exoteric schools. For instance, the Mahamudra Yoga of One-Taste uses the parables of "water and waves," "water and ice" and "sleep and dreams." These are also mentioned in the Prajna Paramita Sutra. While the subject of the parables is the same in both, their objects are used quite differently. The books Mahamudra of Dro Pa School and the book called Rest from Maya Method written by the Nyingmapa sage named Undefiled Light, did not point out the difference between the two objects of the parable. Hence, it has been criticized by the Gelugpa as the same exoteric doctrine. In my book Subtle Discriminations of the Teachings of Mahamudra I have explained the difference in the two senses very clearly. The main difference is that the object practiced in the Great Middle Path is only philosophic and theoretical, while the object of the parable as practiced in the Mahamudra is the Enlightened Entity. This is the "water" or "sleep" of the parables, while its Wonderful Function is the "wave," "dream" or "ice." This appears in the Yoga of One-Taste. These, I must add, are practical realizations and not just theory.
    F. The term "Non-Practice Yoga" in Mahamudra means there is no defilement in the practice of the Enlightened Entity and its conditional function. But, the same term in the doctrine of the Great Middle Path means that there is no defilement in the philosophy of Sunyata since they never have the Enlightened Entity for a starting point of practice. There is a position of non-knowledge in which the exoteric cuts off sorrow and achieves the Buddha. This realization is approaching Buddhahood. It is very difficult to attain. In the Mahamudra one has the advantage of the initiations and blessings of a guru who is himself in the position of Dharmakaya. Thus the approach to the Non-practice Position is comparatively easy and quick. While the theory of non-practice seems the same in Mahamudra and the Great Middle Path, its quality is very different in the two.
    G. The practitioner of the Great Middle Path purposely aids others and thus prolongs the time taken to realize Sunyata. He desires that all beings achieve Budahood before he does. The student of Vajrayana, on the contrary, forbids himself these practices and adds some methods, such as the fourth Mahamudra initiation, to shorten his path, as I have already explained.
    H. Although the Causation of Tathagata or Bhutatathata in the Great Middle Path is superior to the Causation of Alaya in the Idealism school (which lays much stress on mentality), the latter never takes account of this. Philosophically, the Theory of Tathagata is not limited by mentality. In their doctrine "mind" is always used, but actually it does not mean consciousness, which is separate from materiality. Actually, the Causation of Tathagata includes every Dharma and every phenomena of mentality and materiality, all of which are included in the Tathagatagarbha. It does not separate matter from mind. I always say that "among the three realms there are only conditions, and every condition is Sunyata" instead of the Idealist saying that "the three realms are only Mind and all Dharmas are consciousness." Actually the Mahamudra is practiced only after the second and third initiation. During the practice of these initiations one is practicing deep breathing. Here mind actually meets the five elements.
    4. Discrimination between the Practice of Sunyata and Mahamudra and Great Perfection
    Both Mahamudra and the Great Perfection are esoteric. The latter belongs to the Nyingmapa School. Some of these doctrines come from the "Hidden Treasure of Dharma" hidden by Padmasambhava, which the Gelugpa rejects for the reason that they were not imparted from India. Mahamudra is accepted by every Tibetan school, although the Gelugpa considers it very esoteric, and therefore do not readily talk about it. In my humble opinion, the Hidden Treasure of Dharma is not completely reliable. Some of the doctrines are not authentic. But, we can investigate them with reason and philosophy. What is really the Gem of Dharma is without a doubt excellent. Unfortunately, the Gelugpa rejects all types of hidden Treasure. This shows a kind of ignorance of the tradition, and a lack of "Dharma eye" with which these discriminations must be made. For example, they refuse to accept the Book of the Dead. This goes against philosophy, logic and reason. The Buddha must have had compassion for those in the Bardos. Are the teachings of no help to those in the Bardo states? Is the practice of reading from the book and visualizing the five Buddhas of no value even if the book was not written by Padmasambhava himself? While it is not the purpose of this essay to discuss at length the value of the Treasury of Dharma, since the Great Perfection belongs to the Nyingmapa Hidden Treasures, I must speak about it a little.
    The Gelugpa holds to the imparted tradition from India. But, were all these Dharmas imparted orally, from mouth to ear. If we dig up the source of the Tantra, then we find that the lower three yogas were discovered by Nagarjuna in the Iron Pagoda in Southern India. Is this not the real tradition? It has never been rejected by the Gelugpa, yet it was a hidden treasure. Of the other Tantras of the Anuttara Yoga, some are said to have descended from Heaven and some were given to the Guru by the wisdom Yidam. Thus, not all were imparted personally by Gautama Buddha. That is why it is said that the Tantra is always imparted by the Sambhogakayas. This is admitted even by the exoteric schools; the reader can have no doubt about this, thus strengthening his faith.
    A. Mahamudra establishes four yogas and practices them one by one, whereas the Great Perfection does not establish these yogas. The former method is gradual, while the latter is rapid. The Right View of the Mahamudra is called the Dharmakaya View, while the Great Perfection is called the Natural Purity View. The former requires practice to gain realization, while the latter does not. Because there is no bondage in the Cause position, there is no need of liberation in the Consequence position. In terms of time, the present is taken as Sunyata without hesitation or waiting. In terms of space, whatever is before one, is taken without choice or selection. Where there is the Right View of Natural Purity there is Right Practice, Right Conduct and Right Result without gradation or sequence. The practitioner must just keep the Right View of Natural Purity without a moments cessation. That is why the great guru Gampopa said, "You think I practice, but what is it that I practice? If you say I do not practice, then why am I not disturbed?" We should not deceive ourselves, only the great sages can do this.
    In the works of the great Nyingmapa sage named Undefiled Light there are many mistakes that make the Mahamudra so much like the Great Perfection. I have written an essay entitled "Padmasambhavas Secret Teaching on the Great Perfection" which someday may be translated by some one, and may be used for reference on this subject.
    B. Through the aid of the third initiation, one attains the Rainbow Body in the practice of Mahamudra, while in the Great Perfection, one may do without Dakinis. Here another method called Torga is used, through which the body is transformed into the Rainbow Body. The former practice is both dangerous and difficult since real Dakinis are hard to meet. It is also very dangerous to lose the White Bodhi and very difficult to dissolve it into Wisdom light, in the maya body of Buddhahood or Heruka. In the Great Perfection, there is nothing quite so difficult or dangerous. In the first state of practice, advantage is taken of external light such as the sun and moon. By and by, the light is induced within the maya body. This is easily done in the Great Perfection. Practice is carried out in a totally dark building. Even if the yogi does not succeed in this, he avoids the traps of lust and suffering which sometimes catch those who have received the third initiation. There is a special doctrine in the Nyandhi Yoga called "The Highest Method for Getting Enlightenment in One Week" which explains this. I have given a commentary on this in my Chinese book published in Hong Kong.
    C. The concept of Causation in the Mahamudra is different from that in the Great Perfection. The practitioner of Mahamudra has already passed through the second and third initiations in which Tumo and deep breathing are practiced, and has sublimated the gross breathing into non-dualism of mind and energy. On this basis he established the gnostic Sambhogakaya or Dharmakaya. Now the student should practice the fourth initiation of Mahamudra with this maya body and achieve the non-duality of enlightenment. In the Great Perfection the concept of causation is also related to the five energies of breathing, the five of wisdom, five lights and five Vajrayana chains (Torga) which form the foundation of non-duality of mind and energy. In the Great Perfection these elements and five wisdoms are intrinsically harmonized. Thus, the student does not practice them separately. He knows that mind and energy are naturally pure and perfect. Therefore it is not necessary to practice first with the mind, and then with deep breathing and finally with the non-duality of the two, since there is no duality between mind and energy in the View of Natural Purity. In the Five Lights of Torga, one experiences the harmonization of the five energies and five wisdoms. Here there is no analysis, for there is no need to analyze whether the light belongs to this wisdom or this energy.
    D. Che Cho means View of Natural Purity. It is the foundation of the Great Perfection. It views everything as the five elements, five energies, five wisdoms and five lights, which are two Parts of the Great Perfection. All are intrinsically pure and holy. With this view one is able to practice the Torga through which ones body may be transformed into the Rainbow Body.
    5. Discrimination between the Practice of Sunyata in the Great Perfection and Chan:
    Before proceeding with a more detailed discussion of this topic, a short introduction to Chan is necessary. Two things must be mentioned:
    i) In China the Tantra and the Chan have been considered as two separate schools. But in accordance with my emphasis on all systems of Buddhism being one whole, the Chan actually should be considered as belonging to the highest stage of the Great Perfection in the Vajrayana, which is Tantra. There are three reasons why they should not be divided:
    a) My root guru, the great Lola Rimpoche, who was highly skilled in the practice of Great Perfection and the first guru to impart it in China, made contact with many Chinese scholars and practitioners of Chan. As a result he called it the "Great Tantra" which is the highest stage of the Great Perfections. This will be discussed in more detail later on. Historically, Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa school is said to have criticized the Chinese Chan monk who came to Tibet and induced Tibetan Tantric monks to become his disciples. Tsongkhapa was born in Chin Hai Province which is close to Tibet and on the periphery of China. In this province, Tibetan but not Han customs are followed. He himself never entered Han and hence never learned about Chan. I have given some criticism of his book, The Great Path of Tantra, on this point in Chinese. It has been published in Hong Kong.
    b) What we have called the Tantra may have secrecy in its content. But the Chan has not only this secrecy, but secrecy of function in Truth. This kind of function of Truth has many wonderful methods which are without logic or reason, but give the student instant comprehension of the Truth. This will be discussed later on. For this reason Chan is not exoteric as the Chinese scholars classified it.
    c) The first patriarch of the Chinese Chan school was Bodhidharma who had been a famous Tantric guru in Tibet. In China he was known as a patriarch of Chan alone but in Tibet he imparted the Great Perfection whose foundation was completely the same as that of the Chinese Chan school. So, without question, Chan belongs to the Tantra.
    ii) The second part of my introduction to Chan concerns its classifications. The Venerable teacher Tai Hsu classified Chan schools in terms of their purport and dynasty as follows:
    a) Tathagata Chan which tries to teach how to recognize the mind with doctrines.
    b) Patriarchal Chan which points out the mind intuitively without one word of doctrines and goes beyond the Buddhas.
    c) Chan of the Five Sects which goes beyond Chan of the Patriarchs.
    d) Chan in the Sung, Yuan, Ming and Ching dynasties.
    "Dhyana Buddhism in Chinese History and Teachings" written by Doctor Chu Shang Kung used these four classifications, but in my humble opinion I cannot agree with them. The first three categories are based on the standard of quality, whereas the fourth uses that of dynasties. One should not use two standards to classify one thing. In accordance with the prophecies of the ancient Gurus of Chan, I made the following four categories:
    a) Tathagata Chan of Dharmic teachings.
    b) Patriarchal Chan pointing out the Essence.
    c) Offspring Chan using, opportunity and function to impart the Truth.
    d) The Oral Chan spoken by sand-like Buddhists.
    The terms "offspring" and "sand-like" were both predicted in the prophecies of Chan history. The Chinese scholars mistakenly thought the Sand-like Chan would be known by everyone. Actually, it is said that the common Oral Chan is not Chan at all, just as sand is not gold. It was a term of ridicule rather than praise.
    Using the above system of classification, the comparative study of Chan and the Great Perfection should take account of the following: First, we should know that Chan is the highest stage of the Great Perfection, and therefore is part of the Tantra. This contrasts with the view of the Chinese scholars who treat the Tantra as a doctrine of outsiders and considered Chan as an exoteric doctrine. The second point is that the Chan which can be compared to the Great Perfection is the third type, which I have called Offspring Chan. This is not so for the other three types of Chan. Patriarch Chan can only be compared to the Mahamudra, and Tathagata Chan only with the Great Middle Path. The ordinary Oral Chan is not Chan at all and not worth a straw. Thus, I will use the Offspring Chan in the following comparisons.
    A. Great Perfection employs three kinds of imparting methods in initiations. The first is called Denoting Initiation, the second is Oral Initiation and the third is Mind Initiation. In the first one, a crystal or round mirror is usually used as a symbol of the initiation. In all three there are formal rituals which are traditional. In Chan there are no such rituals, rather, the Great Opportunity and the Great Function of the Truth are used. The Chan guru must impart it in his own realization and the disciple must also accept it in this newly appeared realization, intuitively. No established rituals or objects are used as symbols or denotation. Thus the guru is only able to impart it if he himself has realized it; and the disciple cannot accept it if he does not suddenly make his own realization appear. In the Great Perfection on the other hand the guru may not have had the realization himself. But if he has received and studied the tradition, he may give the initiations using the prescribed rituals.
    B. In the history of the accomplished gurus of the Great Perfection, there are very few who could use the Great Opportunity and Function with the Truth. One such was Tilopa who gave Naropa instant comprehension of the Truth when he struck his penis with a rock. When Bewapa received his initiation of Great Perfection, he began to dance in the Mandala and immediately attained the sixth stage of Bodhisattva. Every Tibetan knows this story. However, there are one hundred thousand more examples of this kind in the records of the Chinese Chan. For example the Chan guru who lived in a birds nest and was therefore called Birds Nest Guru, gave his disciple instant comprehension when he blew on a feather. Was not the feather a small thing, and blowing on it a small action? Yet, they performed such profound functions of the Truth. Without the gurus great attainment and the great devotion of his disciple, this result could not have been achieved. Many, many different instances of this have been recorded. For example, drawing a bow, raising a finger, beating or hitting the ground, killing a snake, a punch in the armpit, raising a fist, breaking a pot, destroying a stove, upturning a bed, blowing out a breath and knocking a bamboo, have all been used by the great Chan gurus for imparting the truth. At times, crying, shouting and the like have been used. Even seeing a reflection in the water, or taking a cup of tea or a piece of cake have served the purpose. This all seems very wonderful, but actually is very simple. It seems simple but actually it is very wonderful. There is nothing in the history of Buddhism in all of India, Tibet, China or Japan that can compare with it.
    C. The Doctrine of the Great Perfection has been divided into two parts, Che Cho and Torga, both of which have been used by many Nyingmapa Lamas. Both are quite different from Chan where one is not allowed to practice meditation before achieving some realization. There is a proverb which goes, "Without passing the first crisis, one should not be a hermit; without passing the second crisis, one should not abide on a mountain." That was why the Chan monks usually wandered everywhere, searching for a guru through whom they could get the realization of the truth. When the student comprehends the truth, it is said that he has passed the first crisis. From this point on he can practice the Chan which consists of just keeping the realization constantly in mind. Many wonderful powers and forms of liberation have been recorded in Tang Dynasty, through the practice of Chan. For example, there was the sage Yin Fung who died standing upside down and the monk Pu Wha who flew away with his body. Comparing the two schools just in terms of the number of sages in each we see that the Chan had many, many more followers who achieved higher attainments than the Great Perfection.

    III. Summary

    I will now give a brief but important summary of what I have said. The discrimination between the exoteric and esoteric schools is a gross one, and they are easily distinguished. The following essential distinctions between Mahamudra, Great Perfection and Chan must be discerned. The practitioner of Mahamudra must understand the fourth yoga called "Yoga of Non-Practice" before he can begin to practice the Great Perfection and its view of Natural Purity. The practitioner of Great Perfection must not only have the view of Natural Purity, but actually some realization of Great Perfection, then he can begin to practice Chan. The practitioner of Mahamudra must get the insight of the Enlightened Entity before he can actually practice the Mahamudra. Until he gets this insight, he is still at the stage of paramita meditation even though he has received the impartation and initiation of Mahamudra.
    The practitioner of Great Perfection must personally get the realization of Che Cho, of Natural Purity. Even with initiation and impartation he may only know the theory intellectually, and not have the realization. Until he has this, he can not practice the Great Perfection.
    The practitioner of Chan must have seen the Truth and must understand the special impartation beyond doctrine. He must know the Preaching of Dharmakaya without words. He must have personally seen the Natural Face. Then and only then can he practice the Chan, which is to say, "box without hands" and see that everything is in the Bodhi. All this must be known intuitively and not just as "words from the mouth."
    In conclusion, let me give some simple terms for distinguishing these five kinds of Sunyata.
    1-2. To practice Sunyata is the Course of the exoteric schools, Hinayana and Mahayana. 3. To master the Sunyata is the Course of Mahamudra.
    4. To naturalize Sunyata is the Course of Great Perfection.
    5. To realize and function in Sunyata is the Course of Chan.
    The student of Mahamudra masters the Sunyata because he has the Enlightened Entity. This is somewhat quicker than in the exoteric schools, but more gradual than in the Great Perfection since the student must go through the four yogas, i.e. One-Pointed Yoga, Giving-Up-Play-Word Yoga, One-Taste Yoga, and Non-Practice Yoga.
    I wrote a poem symbolizing this:
    Needles head argues with its end
    Passing thread is what they mind.
    Head has hole, end must work on.
    The point has much work to find.
    Here, the head is the Great Perfection which has its hole already made. The point of the needle must work its way through the four yogas.
    The Chan of Offspring is very difficult to understand, yet when once you have discovered it, there is no practice so easy, so plain, and so intrinsic. Among the five kinds of practice of Sunyata, it is the shortest and straightest way, as is said, an attainment without walking.