Questions and Answers – General
Q – Is it possible for a yogi to go through walls?
Shri Yogi Hari- Yes, we can go through walls but in order to do that we have to understand their nature. There are different kinds – or levels – of walls: material, physical, emotional, intellectual etc.
We build walls around us because we think they will protect us. In the process of doing that, we imprison ourselves. The material, physical wall that used to be built around a city is a reflection of the state of consciousness of the people living in it. They reflect the fear, greed, selfishness, enmity that exist in people’s mind, hence in the society. So do we want to break through these walls? Do we want to be free? If this is our goal in life, then we will strive to change the nature of our mind and consciousness individually and collectively. If we can manifest more love, more tolerance, more compassion, then there will be no need for protection. That is the way of transcending the walls, of breaking them down.
And it is happening today. Of course there is still violence and insecurity in our society. And there will always be, because people are at different stages in their evolution. In spite of this, we must acknowledge that many barriers have been crossed, compared to the past centuries. There are more and more people who realise that we are not just isolated individuals, and who understand the need for global community. We are no longer looking at people because of the colour of their skin or race, their nationality or religious background, but we see them as human beings. When I go to Europe, I sometimes give yoga programs in christian monasteries: do you think it would have been possible in middle age? I would have been burnt alive! As men become more tolerant, more loving, compassionate, as their consciousness becomes more expansive, they are able to go beyond these boundaries and walls they had created internally and externally.
Q – Yes, but it is a common idea that yogis are able of doing many amazing things like sitting in the snow without getting a pneumonia … I have heard also that some of them can even stop their heart …
Shri Yogi Hari- These things are true. They are called “siddhis”, but they are not the goal of yoga. The goal of yoga is to realize the fullness that we are. Man is divine by nature. This whole creation is pervaded by the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient Consciousness that we call God. So man is God in disguise. The goal of sadhana, the spiritual disciplines that elevate our consciousness, is to bring us to that experience of oneness with God by removing the walls and barriers that we have created. Through our involvment in the world, we develop a lot of lust, anger, greed, hatred, jealousy, envy and fear which are like walls. That is why the different paths of yoga start with “yamas and niyamas” which are individual and social moral guidelines. They are the first step of all spiritual endeaviour because this lower nature, these lower emotions create a lot of distraction in the mind, which makes it very weak and incapable of achievements. The more we can remove the impurities from the mind, the more the mind becomes focused, concentrated and capable of infinite achievement. A pure mind is able to connect with the cosmic mind, then at this point everything is possible.
All these phenomena that you are fascinated about, the ability to sit in the snow etc. become very natural and easy when the mind is very focused and concentrated. But these powers are just the by-products of an intense discipline. If the yogi gets stuck there, he will fall back in the walls of his ego with the desire to show off, to impress or control others… It is like getting back to the starting point! A sincere seeker will apply the power he has gained through the purification and concentration of his mind for the experience of his divine nature and the realisation of his oneness with God…
Q : Is it possible to love without attachment like in the case of children for exemple?
Shri Yogi Hari : There are so many gradations of love. A boy meets a girl in the bar, says « I love you ! »… How long does it last ? Until they go to bed ! And when they come out, love is gone.
On the other end, there is the highest kind of love : the ideal, divine love which only knows giving, giving without expecting anything in return. It is stated in the Vedas that « this universe is created in love, with love, it exists in love and will dissolve in love.
Most times our relationship to love is based on egoism, bargaining and business. This kind of love leads to suffering and pain, whereas selfless love leads to freedom. So there is an ideal that you can strive for. If you really love somebody, you don’t try to possess that person. Possessiveness is based on selfishness, on « what I want », « my » desires, what « I » am getting from this relationship. This kind of attitude enslaves the other person : this happens between husband and wife, parents and children and so on.
It is natural for parents to love their child. There is a kind of possessiveness that is built in, because if that was not there, we would not take care of the child. If you observe in the animal kingdom, there is extreme possessiveness in the mother for the baby. But it only lasts for a definite period of time. When it’s time for the baby to become independant, the mother pushes it away. It is only in human beings that this attachment and possessiveness is prolonged beyond the normal stage. Our mind becomes diseased because of selfishness and egoism and the child becomes enslaved, tied up by this attachment. This leads to all kinds of psychological problems.
So there is a certain amount of possessiveness and attachment in the love of the parents for the child, but it is not meant to last for ever. You want the child to grow up, to mature and become independant. When you feel that s/he is safe, you bless your child and let him/her go. Then you regain some freedom in your life. If you understand the purpose of life you will use that freedom for your own evolution. If you don’t understand, you don’t let the children go, and after a while grandchildren come, and this is another source of attachment. So it keeps you clinging on to life when you are supposed to develop detachment.
So be grateful that you have somebody to love and that you receive love. Because love is divine by nature. It is an expression of the higher self. The atman, the soul is love absolute. We are yearning for that experience of love absolute, for that fulfillment in our life. That is why everybody is looking for love, but they mistakenly look for it outside, going from relationship to relationship, husband, wife, children… Yet no matter how much they get from these different experiences, there is always some imperfection, some disappointment in it. The feeling of emptiness and the yearning remains at the background because the real beloved is God, which is our true self. That is why Mira says : « I am like a mad person in this world, because of my love for my beloved (God). No one understands my pain. It’s only when I will be united with God again that I will be healed ». So are we all…
Q: What is Sadhana?
Shri Yogi Hari: To really know what sadhana is, you have to examine the life of people who have reached the state of perfection, like in our age mother Theresa or Swami Sivananda. There is one central theme throughout their life : they lived a life of service and selflessness. They did not bother about Kundalini, chakras and all of that. All they did and told is “serve, serve, serve, love, give”. Only through service can the heart and mind be purified. Only through service can greed and selfishness be erased. This reduces a high philosophy into a simple practice: through service purify the heart and realize the Self. If this becomes clear in your mind, then everything you do will fit into this.
The conditioning of the world and education is taking you in the opposite direction by increasing selfishness and greed. It is really enhancing all that you have to erase in order to reach the state of purification, fullness and freedom. The world makes it a virtue to lust for wealth, power, pleasure. If you don’t strive after it, society will tell you that something is wrong with you, that you have to go to psychiatrists and therapists ….
Even with Hatha Yoga, so many people are practicing it to have more sex-appeal, a better sex life or to be able to cope with more stress so that they can be more successful, make more money and so on… Hardly anybody practices Hatha Yoga for purification and liberation!
This whole world is involved in the “rat race”. Yet, at the end of the rat race, you are still a rat, not the evolved, divine, radiant being that you are in reality, when you have removed the thick veil of selfishness!…
All the Scriptures insist on the importance of “Satsanga”- being with a spiritual teacher. Our inner space is filled up with our emotions, thoughts, conditionings which act like a remote command for all our mental and physical actions and reactions. The only way to make some space in this fog and get a glimpse of freedom from it is to be in the presence of somebody whose mind vibrates at a more subtle level. His presence helps us to detach from the inner fog and allows us to identify with the blue sky that lies beyond… This blue sky has a universal dimension, whereas the fog belongs specifically to us!
Q – What is the karma of alcoholics?
Shri Yogi Hari – These people came with those tendencies which they have developed and reinforced. So their karma is to be alcoholic! Of two people born in the same house, with the same parents, growing in the same conditions, one may become an alcoholic and the other will never touch alcohol. This is because of their impressions, or samskaras which are different. Even in this very life, somebody who was an alcoholic but has stayed away from alcohol for a long time will go back to drinking much more easily than a person who doesn’t have this tendency. That is why they say “you are never safe”, because such impressions are very strong. These people have to struggle with all the memories, experiences and habit of alcohol.
Q – In their next life will they be alcoholics again?
Shri Yogi Hari – It is not necessarily going to be an addiction to alcohol, but there is a great chance that there will be an addiction, an indulgence, of some kind. These people will not have a strong will; they will be easily swayed by pleasure which will lead to addiction in one form or another. It takes a great effort to get rid of your undesirable tendencies and to substitute something positive.
What can really help is right association, satsanga. For example, some of you here might have certain kind of habits, like coffee, black tea, chocolate, beer, wine, cigarettes & so on. When you are in a program like this, in this association, you don’t even think about it.
Whereas if you are with your drinking buddies, what do you think about? Certainly not about chanting mantras and doing Hatha Yoga! You think of going together to the bar… When you are with your girlfriend/boyfriend, what do you think about? You think about relationship, about things that girlfriends and boyfriends do when they are together. You don’t have boyfriend thoughts when you are with your child, thoughts of a different kind will come. When you are with your Guru, you think about spiritual matters, your mind vibrates on a different level; philosophical samskaras come up, isn’t it?
So depending on the people you are with, you will have different kinds of thoughts and inspirations that will come up. That is why association is very important. If you want to break off from a bad habit, you don’t want to be with people who trigger this habit. You have to give yourself a chance to let other samskaras come up to the surface.
Because within you are a wide range of experiences, tendencies, samskaras. There is nothing in this universe that is not within you, in your sanchita karma, all your bank-balance of karma. But your predominant tendencies in this life are related to your prarabdha karma, the portion of karma to be worked out, which brought you here and propelled you in this embodiment. So if you want to know what you were before don’t go to a psychic, just look at yourself now because you are the result of your past.
Q – Then are we just the puppets of our samskaras, do we have no freedom at all?
Shri Yogi Hari – In a program like this, everybody hears the same things but it doesn’t create the same impression on each one of you. So you remain a puppet to your samskaras until you realise that you are in bondage. Then you want to free yourself. This happens when you have reached a certain stage in your evolution, where something you hear will strike a chord in you and wake you up to a higher understanding and reality. To avoid further speculations we call it “God’s grace”…
Q: Doesn’t a life of Self-Discipline become a very rigid life?
Shri Yogi Hari: At what time do you eat in the morning?
– At 8…
– You see, with your food you are very rigid. But when it is something uplifting, like study, meditation, Hatha Yoga, you do not want to be rigid. This shows a lack of discrimination. A disciplined life is the only way to happiness, joy and freedom. There is no other way to liberation.
In the beginning, your mind will rebel. It takes a lot of effort to get up at 6 a.m. for meditation if you are not used to it, it is very hard to break through the conditionings and laziness. I remember when I started to meditate… you make a resolve to get up at 5, you sit and you always find something wrong, the seat is not comfortable, you try another way, then you get a smell of coffee and you think “perhaps I should drink some coffee before I start”… you are going to find so many things! As for me I used to put a nail in the ceiling to tie my hair in order to wake up when I was nodding or sleeping!
But after a while once this sloughtfulness is removed it becomes such a precious moment that you don’t want to miss a day. That is my experience.
Same way with food. Discipline with food is the way to more freedom. I feel alive and happy in my body having food, 2 or 3 times a day, like oatmeal, khechari, salad, fresh vegetables.. I enjoy it!
This doesn’t mean that from time to time I would not enjoy an ice-cream! There is no problem as long as it doesn’t become an addiction! Sometimes people go through emotional agony : “I ate an ice-cream, I have no discipline!” Myself if I want an ice-cream, I enjoy it, then I am gone and happy. I don’t think of it afterwards and I leave alone those who think that a yogi should not eat ice-cream…
The problem is when you have no discipline in your diet. Some people eat all day, they are like a vacuum-cleaner. Then they experience all kinds of problems, like constipation, poor digestion, skin condition and so on. They have to take all kinds of medication, food supplements so they become more and more enslaved and in bondage, because of lack of discipline. It is the opposite of freedom! That is why only a person who lives a life of discipline can experience freedom.
Q: They say that in the last hundred years there has been as many changes as in the thousand years before, and probably even more on the scientific level. Does that go also for spiritual level?
Shri Yogi Hari: It is quite the opposite! The technological, scientific progress serves to create more agitation in the mind. Earlier and earlier, the mind of young people becomes totally fragmented. This is not a reflection of spiritual evolution! With internet, you can get any kind of information you want on any subject: is it changing the quality of the mind? It makes it more agitated!
Same with communications, the capacities to communicate have increased tremendously, but it distracts people more and more. I have seen that many times during yoga programs: people come to the ashram to take a week-end off but as soon as the lecture finishes, they run on the telephone, connecting back to their house, their boyfriend, girlfriend. They haven’t left anything, they are never really off! All this technology creates more anxiety, more stress, more agitation. People keep jumping from one thing to another. There is no steadiness of mind, no sticktuitiveness. Nobody sticks to one discipline long enough to experience anything deeper. The mind is constantly looking for another practice that would be more beneficial…
Years ago people had to struggle in order to survive. Today in western countries we have solved that problem to a large extent, but what do people do with the time they have gained? They subject themselves to all kinds of aggressive activities that shatter the body, the mind and the psychic system. Then they have to spend time and money to repair it, going to psychiatrists and all kinds of therapies to repair the damage…
There is nothing wrong with all the comfort and technology, but if you don’t have proper knowledge, proper understanding, it will scatter your mind and distract you from the goal which is constant improvement until one reaches the state of perfect peace, equanimity, freedom. When the mind is focused and channeled in the right direction, technology can be very useful, it can help to accelerate the learning. But in many cases today, technology accelerates degradation and destruction.