Garuda asana on the Yoga Retreat's beach.
How to Remove Doubt
Q&A with Swami Swaroopananda
Swami Swaroopananda is the Acharya (spiritual director) of Sivananda Yoga Centers and Ashrams on the West Coast of the United States, in the Middle East, and in the Bahamas, and is one of the foremost disciples of Swami Vishnudevananda. He is renowned for his spontaneous yet clear, concise, and complete answers to every question. This Q&A is from a Satsang at the Yoga Retreat during the May 2011 Yoga Teachers' Training Course.
Swami Swaroopananda walks with Sita Chaitanya.
Om Swamiji, how does one remove doubt?
Doubts are about things which in reality are not clear to us. Even when we doubt whether we should do this or that, there is a lack of clarity as to which is a better choice. Therefore, we have doubt. Something is obscured. There is a mental obscuration and due to this mental obscuration the mind swings between two or more possibilities and doubt is the result.
There are several methods that can remove doubt.
One is to use a proper process of reasoning. Reasoning is something that needs to be learned. In other words, the power of discrimination is a skill to be developed. Through the power of discrimination we apply reason to situations of doubt, and we remove doubt through reason.
Another method is to remove doubt through direct experience. Let's say I have two possibilities and I have to make a choice, and let's say I can see directly the outcome of each choice, whether it will be a painful or a good outcome, like a person who is on top of the mountain on a clear day and when he looks down he can see everything clearly. If you are on top of such a mountain, which is a spiritual mountain, and you can see clearly all around and far away, then the doubts will just go away due to the clarity of vision. This clarity of vision can be attained through the practice of meditation.
A third method to remove doubt is through faith. This is very difficult to understand. Faith means, let's say, faith in our spiritual preceptor. Sometimes reasoning is not working. Sometimes there is no clarity of mind. Sometimes we need the help of another person. You may call the other person your spiritual preceptor. You may call the other person your spiritual friend. You may call the other person your spiritual brother or sister or just your friend, or a person who has the capacity to help you to remove the doubt. But in order to approach such a person and to be benefited from the advice of such a person and from the wisdom of such a person, we must have faith in that person. If we don't have faith in that person, even if the person has the capacity to help he cannot help because help does not depend only on the other person, but help also depends on us. Faith is another method of removing doubt. Faith in what? It's faith in a person who is there to help us to remove the doubt.
Summer is just around the corner and one way to prepare for the hot months is by adjusting our diets. Here are a couple of recipes that you can incorporate at home to keep you feeling as cool as a cucumber all summer long. Enjoy!
Simple, Satisfying Raw Cilantro Dressing, from Grace Van Berkum*
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon of raw, organic tahini
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency is reached. Use as a salad dressing, or spreading over a slice of whole grain toast, or over a bowl of brown rice or whole grain pasta.
Guests and staff alike are now enjoying the benefits of an upgrade of the wireless system, which provides great reception all over the ashram.
This easy-to-make tea blends three kitchen spices that are balancing for all seasons and body types, and is especially beneficial for pitta (fire and water) types and in the spring and summer seasons. CCF Tea is aromatic, cooling and soothing for the mind, digestion and urinary tract and is naturally sweet. It is often served with meals at the Yoga Retreat.
1 part cumin seeds
2 parts coriander seeds
2 parts fennel seeds
Mix the seeds together in a container and steep 1-2 teaspoons of this mixture in one cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy warm or at room temperature.
*Grace Van Berkum will be presenting "Cooking for Life Force, Vegan Nutrition Course," January 15 - 17, 2012