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Swami SivanandaSwami Vishnu

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—Swami Sivananda

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Q&A with Swami Swaroopananda

Applying Yoga Teachings in Daily Life

  Question: How do we apply the teachings of yoga in our daily life?   Answer: Assuming that we receive teachings of yoga and of Vedanta, we need to approach a teacher and to ask this question: “How do I apply these teachings in my daily life …

Facing Fear and Generating New Habits

Question: I have a tendency to run away from hard situations. How do I properly face my fears? Answer: First of all, sometimes it is good to run away from situations; it is not correct to say that it is always healthy to face situations. Sometimes it i …

Cultivating Compassion

Question: Do you have advice on how to cultivate compassion? Answer: One of the most important practices that we have is called ahimsa, non-hurting others. It is a very good practice. We can hurt others by what we think, by what we say, and by what we …

The Reason For Meditation

Question: I completely understand the philosophy and aim of yoga. I wonder why is it that in order to get the most out of our life we need to set aside time for meditation, when instead we could practice embracing life as a gift of being human and not …

First Lesson Learned from Swami Vishnudevananda

Question: What was the first lesson you learned from Swami Vishnudevananda? Answer: The first lesson I learned from Swami Vishnudevananda? This is the little story. I met Swami Vishnudevananda in two steps. First step: I went to a bookstore, looking fo …

The Meaning of Prostrations

Question: What is the meaning or significance of prostrations? Answer: Prostrations are a practice in Bhakti Yoga. The practice is called vandana, which means “prostration.” Vandana is a physical expression of self-surrender to God, or self-surrender t …

The Goal of a Human Being

Question: What is the goal of a human being? Answer: This is a good and valid question. According to the yogic tradition a human being has four legitimate goals in life. We call them the four purusharthas, the four goals of the life, and they are calle …

Meditation and an Active Mind

Question: When I sit and meditate my mind is flooded by unorganized thoughts. Can you give me some guidance for a more fruitful practice? Answer: This is fruitful practice. Thoughts are the activity of the mind just as waves are the activity of the oce …

Staying Inspired with Your Spiritual Practice

Question: Over time, my sadhana, (spiritual practice) can become mechanical or start feeling heavy or serious. How do we remain inspired and light? Answer: You should go and wash some dishes! Yes, this happens; it does not matter what we do, the mind g …

How to Love without Attachment

Question: What is detachment and how do we love with detachment? Answer: Detachment means detachment from suffering and the causes of suffering. This is one of the great teachings in yoga. Long before Lord Buddha, the yogis taught about samsara, about …

Deepening Sattvic Practice in Everyday Life

Question: Would you be able to provide us with something similar to the Ten Commandments in terms of maintaining or deepening our sattvic practice when we return to our settings? Answer: Swami Vishnudevananda summarized the whole thing very beautifully …

Illusion, Reality, and the Validity of Western Science

  Question: If experienced reality is just an illusion, is western science then futile, or pointless?   Answer: An illusion can be a useful illusion. We need to understand this. An illusion is not an unreal thing. An illusion is simply an app …

Courage to Walk into the Unknown

  Question: How does one summon courage to walk into the unknown?   Answer: How do we get courage to walk into the unknown? We get courage to walk into the unknown little by little. Courage is a long process. We need to face many dangerous si …

What is Vedanta philosophy?

  Question: What is Vedanta philosophy?   Answer: The philosophy which is based on the teachings of the Upanishads is called Vedanta. The Upanishads are the ending portions of the Vedas, and their subject matter is focused on answering the qu …

How to Practice Positive Thinking

  Question: Replacing a negative thought with a positive thought seems like an emotional denial. How do we properly practice positive thinking? Answer: There are several ways to practice positive thinking. First of all, when negative thoughts come …

What is True Happiness?

  Question: Can you explain what true happiness is in relation to just being happy with the surroundings and myself, which seems so shallow and superficial? Answer: Our real nature is true happiness. Our ultimate nature is true happiness. Every ot …

Swami Swaroopananda on Obstacles to Yoga Practice

Question: What are the main challenges in leading a yoga lifestyle and how should we cope with them when they arise on our path? Answer: The main challenge is karma. That is the main challenge but it is also the main opportunity. In yogic practices we …

Swami Swaroopananda on God’s Will

  Question:  How does one know the difference between God’s will and our own will and how can we surrender to God’s will? Answer:  We know nothing about God’s will. The only way for us to know about God’s will is from studying the scriptures, for …

Secrets of the Sivananda Yoga Sequence

  Question: Would you explain the reason for the order of the 12 basic postures in the Sivananda Yoga Sequence? Answer: Yogic practices by nature are fundamentally spiritual practices, including the yoga asanas. They have a higher, lofty spiritual …

Transcending Duality

Question: How can we transcend duality? Answer: First of all we have to define what duality is. Duality is our notion that each one of us is an individual conscious being and we are aware of others, or beings or objects that are different from us; this …

How to Acquire Faith

Question: What is faith, and how does one acquire it? Answer: Faith, first of all, is not blind belief. Faith is a way of knowing, or is a way of knowledge. Faith is a way of knowledge, not through the five senses, not through the intellect, but throug …

The Karma of Swadharma

Question: What is swadharma? Answer: Swadharma means our self-duty. This is the karmic duty with which we are born. Each one is born in this world because of karma, because of past actions; and due to our karma, we are born with certain things that we …

In Japa Yoga Meditation, Mantra & Meaning Are One

Question: If in meditation we are supposed to focus on the mantra and its meaning, then there is more than one thought. How can there be concentration on both things at the same time? Answer: When you say the word “cow,” it is meaningful. You do not ju …

Can meditation help in controlling depression, anxiety and mental illnesses?

Answer: I once asked Swami Visnudevananda how to heal depression because we had a student who suffered from it. The first thing he suggested was lots of karma yoga because someone with depression should be busy serving others. Some people with depressi …

Yoga in the Modern World

Question: I feel discouraged when I look out at the experience of yoga as it is called in the world today. It seems that it has become an exercise class and lost its true meaning. I am wondering if you have any words of encouragement. Answer: In my vie …

Karma Yoga Practice and Benefits

Question: How is it possible to practice Karma Yoga without truly knowing its meaning? Answer: Fundamentally, there are two main spiritual paths. One is called the yoga of action, and the other is called the yoga of knowledge. Yoga of action is called …

What Is Love?

Real love cannot be described. Love can be described by describing the feeling of love. Usually, when we love, together with the feeling of love comes a feeling of joy, happiness, and bliss.

Using Right Discrimination

Question: How does one use right discrimination without passing judgment? Answer: Right discrimination, or viveka, is not about other people. Right discrimination is about oneself. Viveka means discrimination between the permanent and the ephemeral, an …

Do Not Be Overwhelmed By the Vedas

Question: The Vedas, with their divisions and sections, seem confusing and overwhelming. How can we explain the Vedas in simple terms to our students, to support the premise that the Vedas are the truth? Answer: The Vedas are neither confusing nor over …

Why Did Gandhi and Jesus Die By Violence?

Question: In the Raja Yoga Sutras, it is said that by performing samyama –- the combined, simultaneous practice of dhāranā (concentration), dhyāna (meditation) and samādhi (union) –- on ahimsa, or non-injury, violence no longer exists in the presence o …

If You Want Peace, You Have to Create a New Movie

Question: What is the best response to world conflict, to interpersonal conflict? Answer: In the context of the law of karma, I’m going to say something very strong, which is that we are personally responsible for conflict in the world. We always say, …

Without Giving, Our Practice Can Stagnate

Question: Over time, sadhana, or spiritual practice, can become mechanical, or it can start feeling heavy and serious. How does one remain inspired and light? Answer: It doesn’t matter what we do, the mind gets used to it, and if this happens in our sp …

Dispassion Does Not Mean Indifference

Question: If one successfully attains vairagya, or dispassion, why would one do anything beyond one’s immediate responsibilities and duties? For example, why did Swami Vishnudevananda feel such a strong need to promote world peace, if he had attained v …

If The World Is Illusion, What Is The Purpose Of Science?


World: Real, Unreal or Both?

Question: If everything is Brahman, is there really any such thing as an individual’s past life? Or is there really just a collective evolution? Answer: Both exist, but we first need to understand that many systems of philosophy have appeared within In …

What Is the Relationship Between Grace and Karma?


Learning to Distinguish the Real from the Illusory

As Printed in Yoga Life – Summer 2013  [Download the PDF here] Question: How does one cultivate viveka? Answer: Viveka means discrimination, or the ability to correctly discern one thing from another. For instance, when we go to the market, what do we …

How to Become Fearless & Develop Confidence


Individual Karma vs Collective Karma

Question: Will a person who lives a pure, peaceful and spiritual life still be affected by the collective negative karma associated with the time and place in which they live? Answer: Yes, of course. Think about the sinking of the Titanic. There were m …

What Must Be Done to Achieve Samadhi?


When the “Logical” Decision Is Not So Logical

Question: What if we think we have made a mistaken life decision? Is it actually a mistake? Answer: Sometimes at an early stage in life we make a mistake. We make what at the time seems to be a logical decision. Sometimes society is pushing us, sometim …

Is There a Path of Yoga at Which No One Can Fail?


Let the Law of Karma Be Your Guide

Question: If a person has suffered evil at the hands of another, and they hate that person, what is the best way to get rid of that anger? Answer: The best way to approach it is to have a practical understanding of the law of karma. If you understand k …

Finding and Pleasing Our Perfect Teacher

Question: It is said that the fastest way to enlightenment is to be with a sat guru and let him take you over, literally following everything he says. What do you think of this, and how can we take advantage of it in this organization? Answer: This has …

Follow Your True Calling And Do No Harm

Question: Why is it important to follow our true callings or use the gifts we incarnate with, even if we are working full time in areas that sustain us financially but drain us spiritually? What happens if this conflict cannot be resolved? Answer: Ther …

How to Increase the Power of Concentration


Practice Yoga While Living in the World

Question: Many of us in the Yoga Teachers Training Course either are or will be householders. Can we stay on the path of enlightenment and raise kids at the same time? Answer: Householders definitely can study and practice yoga. In fact, the sadhana fo …

What Is The Relationship Between Grace And Karma?


What Does It Mean to Go Beyond Virtue?

Swamiji discusses the relationship between virtue, non-virtue and karma, as well as the need to go beyond the spiritual ignorance of false appearances that lead to suffering.

How Do We Have Perfect Love in the World?

Swamiji discusses being in the world while simultaneously being the silent observer of consciousness, elaborating that the very nature of consciousness is unconditional love.

The Difference Between Controlling and Suppressing Anger

Question: What is the practical difference between controlling anger as Swami Sivananda taught, and suppressing it in a way that it can continue to affect the person subconsciously? A: According to the teaching of yoga, the main cause of anger is obstr …

To Realize the Self You First Must Become Selfless

Question: What would be the most practical advice for one who wants to realize the Self? Answer: First of all, we need to keep in mind that it is incorrect to say that only a few, rare people have the desire to realize the Self, to know their own essen …

How Do We Develop Courage to Face the Unknown?


How Does One Cultivate Viveka?

Question: How does one cultivate viveka? Answer: Viveka means discrimination, or the ability to correctly discern one thing from another. For instance, when we go to the market, what do we do? We look for the good vegetables, which go into our basket, …

Is There an End to Suffering?


How to See God in Everything

Swami Swaroopananda answers the question “What is the most practical way to see God in everything?” Presented at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Bahamas.

Have You Seen God? If Yes, When and Where? With Form or Without Form?

Question: Have you seen God? If yes, when and where? With form or without form? Answer: We learn in yoga that guru is God. So yes, I’ve seen God, who in the form of my own guru taught me that God is within. He taught me that if I want to find God, I ha …
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